Public Attitudes towards Crime and Punishment in Greece and the Factors Underlying their Construction
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Public opinion regarding crime-related issues is a challenging matter for researchers and politicians alike. An ill-informed public with regards to crime, punishment and other aspects of the criminal justice system leads to discontent and demands for harsher policies to strengthen public safety. Politicians harness public opinion to secure votes, and this can result in punitive policies that are founded on erroneous beliefs. The objective of this study is to look more deeply into people’s attitudes towards crime and punishment, and to consider why Greek people hold the views that they do and how these views are constructed. A multi-method approach was adopted for the implementation of this study. Quantitative methods were used to map the scope of attitudes towards crime and punishment in Greece. Qualitative methods were then appropriate to analyse and explore how attitudes are constructed and investigate specific factors in more depth. Greek culture was found to be one of the core issues, and in this context the Greek Orthodox faith and the traditional tight Greek family unit indicate that the stronger are the Greek people’s adherence to their traditional religious and family values, the less punitive are their attitudes towards crime and punishment. However, factors such as the media, attitudes towards immigrants and the contemporary political scene were found to cause distorted perceptions, leading to lack of confidence in the Greek criminal justice system.
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