Berryessa, C. M. (2021). A tale of “second chances:” An experimental examination of popular support for early release mechanisms that reconsider long-term prison sentences. Journal of Experimental Criminology.
This study examines US popular support for mechanisms that provide early release and “second chances” for individuals serving long-term prison sentences. An experiment using a national sample of US adults (N=836). Data showed moderate, consistent levels of general support for using a range of commonly available “second chance” mechanisms that also extended to offenders convicted of both violent and non-violent offenses. Levels of support significantly varied by race, gender, and age. There was significantly more support for using certain mechanisms in response to the trafficking of serious drugs, which was fully mediated by participants’ views on the importance of the cost of incarceration. Members of the public appear open and supportive to utilizing “second chance” mechanisms in a variety of contexts. Yet the cost of incarceration to taxpayers appears to particularly motivate increased public interest in using such mechanisms for offenders convicted of the trafficking of serious drugs.