Punitiveness is something that society has been shying away from in the past few

Punitiveness is something that society has been shying away from in the past few years. Seto and Said (2022) examine religious influence on Americans’ punitiveness. The paper was interesting and the findings that religiosity among certain groups – specifically mainstream Protestants and Catholics – can lead to punitiveness was an interesting one. The one thing that stood out to me was the scaled independent variable based on the following statements coded 1-4 (strongly disagree to strongly agree). 1. make punishment more severe for all crimes.
2. use the death penalty for juveniles who murder.
3. limit the appeals available for death sentences.
4. use three strikes laws for repeat offenders.
5. use chemical castration on sex offenders.
6. reduce the privileges available to prisoners (televisions, recreation, etc.)
It stood out because under the scale variable strongly agreeing to reducing privileges to prisoners was seemingly weighted the same as strongly agreeing to chemical castrations on sex offenders. Basically, for the variable those measures were equally punitive (that is probably a problem with the variable). Taking one or two of the variables out of the scale variable (ie, chemical castration, execution of juveniles) may change the entire findings of the paper. Additionally, I wonder if there are separate punitive groups – extreme punitive groups and those who want slightly more. Thinking about our system in 2022, does the US need more punitiveness? If so, in what areas? If the system does not need more punitiveness, what should be done? How would this be different from everything that has been tried in the past? Does your religion/spirituality, or lack thereof, influence this in any way? Finally, how do you define punitive – that may help frame answers a bit better.

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