Effects of Professional Mitigation in Cases Involving Illegal Sexual Behavior

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/577189
Title:
Effects of Professional Mitigation in Cases Involving Illegal Sexual Behavior
Author:
Perkins, Andrew Brian
Issue Date:
2015
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Mitigating evidence is evidence that is presented during the sentencing phase of a trial and is meant to argue for leniency in sentencing. A new form of psycho-legal professional, called a mitigation specialist, is being relied upon more often to assemble the diverse array of psychosocial factors into coherent arguments for less severe sentences. Unfortunately, there is a lack of empirical evidence upon which such professionals can base their work. This is of particular concern in the context of sex offenses—where strong attitudes may overwhelm legal instruction. In collaboration with the Office of the Pima County Public Defender, the current investigation utilized 209 cases; half involving sex offenses, half involving violent non-sexual offenses, and half utilizing professional mitigation, half not utilizing professional mitigation, to better elucidate the effects of professional mitigation reports on sentences in cases involving sexual and violent nonsexual crime. Results revealed that the effectiveness of mitigation reports was heavily moderated by case type. While mitigating evidence was effective in reducing sentence length for violent nonsexual offenses, it had the opposite effect in the cases involving sex offenses. Psychological reports, however were effective in reducing sentence lengths for cases involving sex offenses. Individual mitigating factors and lexical characteristics (examined through Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software) did not show any consistent relationship with sentence length, suggesting that the effect of the mitigation reports as a whole cannot necessarily be discerned from its parts. Limitations, future directions, and possible implications for the practice of mitigation specialists are explored.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Sentencing; Sex Offender; Psychology; Mitigation
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Psychology
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Becker, Judith V.
Committee Chair:
Becker, Judith V.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen
dc.titleEffects of Professional Mitigation in Cases Involving Illegal Sexual Behavioren_US
dc.creatorPerkins, Andrew Brianen
dc.contributor.authorPerkins, Andrew Brianen
dc.date.issued2015en
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en
dc.description.abstractMitigating evidence is evidence that is presented during the sentencing phase of a trial and is meant to argue for leniency in sentencing. A new form of psycho-legal professional, called a mitigation specialist, is being relied upon more often to assemble the diverse array of psychosocial factors into coherent arguments for less severe sentences. Unfortunately, there is a lack of empirical evidence upon which such professionals can base their work. This is of particular concern in the context of sex offenses—where strong attitudes may overwhelm legal instruction. In collaboration with the Office of the Pima County Public Defender, the current investigation utilized 209 cases; half involving sex offenses, half involving violent non-sexual offenses, and half utilizing professional mitigation, half not utilizing professional mitigation, to better elucidate the effects of professional mitigation reports on sentences in cases involving sexual and violent nonsexual crime. Results revealed that the effectiveness of mitigation reports was heavily moderated by case type. While mitigating evidence was effective in reducing sentence length for violent nonsexual offenses, it had the opposite effect in the cases involving sex offenses. Psychological reports, however were effective in reducing sentence lengths for cases involving sex offenses. Individual mitigating factors and lexical characteristics (examined through Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software) did not show any consistent relationship with sentence length, suggesting that the effect of the mitigation reports as a whole cannot necessarily be discerned from its parts. Limitations, future directions, and possible implications for the practice of mitigation specialists are explored.en
dc.typetexten
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen
dc.subjectSentencingen
dc.subjectSex Offenderen
dc.subjectPsychologyen
dc.subjectMitigationen
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen
thesis.degree.disciplinePsychologyen
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen
dc.contributor.advisorBecker, Judith V.en
dc.contributor.chairBecker, Judith V.en
dc.contributor.committeememberBecker, Judith V.en
dc.contributor.committeememberBeck, Connie J.A.en
dc.contributor.committeememberMehl, Matthiasen
dc.contributor.committeememberSbarra, David A.en
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