Van Gelder, J.-L., Aarten, P., Lamet, W., & Van der Laan, P. (2015). Unknown, Unloved? Public Opinion on and Knowledge of Suspended Sentences in the Netherlands. Crime and Delinquency, 61(5), 669–689. doi:10.1177/0011128711426537
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.