CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, January 27, 2023

Wozniak et al. on Selling Effective Violence Prevention Policies

Kevin Wozniak (Maynooth University) has posted Selling Effective Violence Prevention Policies to the Public: A Nationally Representative Framing Experiment (Pickett, J.T., Ivanov, S., and Wozniak, K.H. (2022). Journal of Experimental Criminology, 18, 387-409) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Objectives: After years of decreasing public punitiveness and declining crime rates, politicians are seeking evidence-based crime policies to reduce mass incarceration without increasing crime. One such policy that has been implemented in several US cities is the Operation Peacemaker Fellowship (OPF), which incentivizes conformity and program participation by providing monetary stipends to individuals at risk of violent offending, thereby simultaneously reducing violence and incarceration. Yet, there is no evidence about public support for such policies.

Methods: Using a nationally representative survey experiment, we examine public support for violence prevention stipends. We employ a referendum-style, contingent valuation design to measure the impact of tax increases versus tax savings on public opinion, and we randomize message framing that emphasizes the stipend program’s risky versus protective features.

Results: Both tax changes and risk framing matter. The public is willing to vote for stipends when they reduce taxes and are framed as a method to save lives. Most Republicans oppose stipends under all conditions.

Conclusions: Reformers can increase public support for effective, nonpunitive policies that target violent offenders by emphasizing both their economic and social benefits. However, such policies are likely to face consistent opposition from certain portions of the public.

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