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EFFECTS OF SENTENCING OPTIONS AND STRICT/LENIENT INSTRUCTIONS ON CONVICTING SUICIDE ATTEMPTERS

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Sentence and strictness of instructions influence juries' willingness to convict. To see whether this result holds for suicide attempters, 240 undergraduates read jury instructions for a suicide attempt that varied sentence (jail term, fine, community service, or mandatory counseling) and instructions, voted guilty/not guilty, and rated their certainty and effectiveness. With sentences of 25 hours mandatory counseling, or strict instructions, more respondents voted guilty. Sentence did not impact certainty or effectiveness, but strictness enhanced certainty. Overall, respondents were neutral that convicting a suicide attempter would reduce future attempts. Consistent with terror management theory, present students were willing to punish regardless of whether they thought that the punishment was preventive.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississipi, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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