Unknown, Unloved? Public Opinion on and Knowledge of Suspended Sentences in the Netherlands

Jean Louis van Gelder*, Pauline Aarten, Willemijn Lamet, Peter van der Laan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Public opinion research shows that the general public tends to perceive noncustodial sanctions, such as suspended sentences, as too lenient while being largely ignorant about their nature. In two studies among representative samples of the Dutch population, the authors examine public opinion about and knowledge of suspended sentences in the Netherlands. Findings suggest that knowledge of suspended sentences is positively related to their perceived punitiveness and beliefs in their effectiveness. Furthermore, opinions about suspended sentences are related to general penal attitudes. More punitive attitudes translate into less favorable opinions. Finally, providing information about suspended sentences can lead to more positive attitudes and greater belief in their effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-689
Number of pages21
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • penal attitudes
  • public opinion
  • suspended sentences


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