The United States and the Czech Republic have become more punitive in their responses to criminal behavior. Criminal justice policy may reflect popular opinion to some degree. Using survey data collected in Florida in 1997 and in the Czech Republic in 1998, we identify significant predictors of punitive attitudes for individual citizens of both countries. Our results show that while it is difficult to compare the two countries directly, we do find some common predictors of punitiveness. OLS regression analysis indicates that punitive attitudes for both countries are shaped by fear of crime generally, as well as by more crime-specific concerns. Further, our study finds that antipathy toward those perceived as “other” is the strongest predictor of punitiveness in the Czech Republic. The same underlying process may be at work in Florida where conservatism is a consistent predictor of punitive attitudes.
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