Reading between the Lines. English Newspaper Representations of Community Punishment

  • David Hayes (Ph. D. Candidate, The University of Nottingham, UK. This article is based upon research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and undertaken as a research dissertation as part of the University of Nottingham’s MA in Socio-Legal and Criminolog)

This paper presents the findings of a sample of 2,000 articles published in English newspapers about community punishment between 2003 and 2011.The data suggest that challenges to the legitimacy of community sanctions in English media, whilst occasionally vociferous and vitriolic,are as muchlinguistic as political in nature, rooted in a tendency to dismiss non-custodial sentences as inherently inferior to incarceration, and to overstate the severity and frequency of crime.This should influence penologists’ and penal reformers’attempts to improve popular support for non-custodial sanctions.

Keywords: community sanctions and measures, media attitudes to crime and punishment, qualitative research, punitiveness, legitimacy

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