Public opinion around crime and justice has been the subject of a number of full-length books, edited collections, and comprehensive survey articles.The most prolific writer in this area has been the criminologist Julian V.
Roberts and Stalans 1998 is short and direct and therefore ideal for classroom use.
Similar but more focused survey articles appear under Punishment and Corrections and Crime, Politics, and Criminal Justice Policy. 1980 are both classics in the area of crime, justice, and public opinion.
Indeed, there are a number of competing theses about the nature of the relationship between the media, public opinion, and public policy.
The media is certainly the source for most of the information the public processes about crime, and research has consistently found that the media, with its focus on stories that emphasize the most unusual and extreme (yet least common) types of crime, offers a decidedly distorted picture of the nature and extent of the crime problem.
Roberts, who has authored numerous influential books and several survey articles on public opinion and criminal justice.
Though slightly outdated, Roberts 1992 is a classic and will remain so until a similarly comprehensive survey article on the topic is published.
Roberts 2004 is an important survey article on public opinion around youth justice.
Roberts and Stalans 1998 provides a more concise (and slightly less comprehensive) survey that introduces the readers to the research (and the debates) in this area.
It has been argued that public opinion, known to be both largely uninformed and frequently misunderstood, both indirectly and directly affects policy.
It is known, for example, that politicians and policymakers look to polls and other measures of public opinion to gauge the mood of the public or the popularity of proposed crime policy.