This is a literature review regarding t

This is a literature review regarding the topic on public perceptions of criminality. More specifically, it will seek to establish whether offenders with mental health illnesses are treated more harshly, as well as whether there is an age leniency effect to older offenders relative to younger ones. In this regard, the published research studies have been reviewed on the stigmas on mental health illness and offending, age leniency and harshness effect, link between mentally ill and offending behaviours, as well as the sympathy towards offenders with mental health illness. 2.2. Explanatory Framework: Importance of Interaction between Age, Mental Health and Offence Type In order to successfully undertake this study, it is important to justify why there is need to consider the interaction between age, mental health and offence type. To this end, one very important variable comes into play: dangerousness. The attribution of dangerousness is one of the most important factors in the explanation of the impact of extra legal factors. Basically, dangerousness can be used to explain not just age-related sentencing but also sentencing as influenced by mental; health and type of offence. Age leniency is explained by perception that old people are less dangerous. This is why this effect disappears when sexual offences against children (a stereotypical older adult crime) are considered (Steffensmeier, Ulmer & Kramer, 1998). Although assault is a stereotypical younger person crime, mentally ill persons, being highly unpredictable, might be considered extra dangerous. As such, older adults might be regarded as dangerous if they are mentally ill too (Ashworth, 2010). However, the effects tend to be much smaller or limited. Moreover, there may be fewer changes for theft except if theft is considered to be a stereotypical crime for older adults; in which case the effects tend to be reversed (Ashworth, 2010). 2.3 Stigmas on Mental Health Illness and Offending The phrase mental illness is deceptive in the sense that it suggests that every mental health illnesses or conditions are the same and have similar attributes. In fact, there is no sole mental illness, but there is an array of mentally related health conditions with varied experiences and symptoms (Clark, Monahan, and Silver, 2013). Oversimplifying discussions on mental illnesses can wrongly infer that all people who live with mentally related health conditions are affected in a similar way, or that every individual shares the same behaviours. In most cases, symptoms of severe mental illnesses are intermittent, surrounded by interludes of wellness or recovery (R?ªsch, Angermeyer & Corrigan, 2015). Therefore, an individual can experience mental health in the face of being diagnosed with mental illness. The alarm that people suffering from mental health conditions can be offending is at the centre of the stigma, social exclusion and discrimination experienced by people with mentally related health conditions. Research studies on public attitudes and perceptions on mental health have established stereotypes that individuals with mental illnesses pose a significant threat towards public safety with relation to offenses. Therefore, individuals living with mentally related health conditions experiences stigma, social exclusion and discrimination that significantly affect their lives. Misperceptions on the relationships between mental illnesses, mental health, and offending, contribute significantly to such experiences (Angermeyer, Holzinger & Matschinger, 2012). However, research studies have indicated that individuals living with mentally related health conditions are hardly more probable to engage in offending behaviours compared to the general population. Nevertheless, public perceptions, usually enhanced by the communication media, are influencing the attitudes that have considerable impacts on people living with mental illnesses. Many research studies have established that the entertainment and media industry play a critical role in influencing public opinions on mental illness and health. Individuals suffering from mentally related health conditions are usually depicted as offending, unpredictable, dangerous and violent (Corrigan, 2013). News stories sensationalising offending acts by people suffering from mental illnesses are typically highlighted as headline news, compared to a few articles that highlight stories of positive news regarding people with related mental illnesses, and these are usually opinion pieces framed in the health or lifestyle sections (Crisp, et al. 2010). Television shows and films usually portray people with mentally related illnesses as offending, dangerous or violent. Also, entertainment often features negative stereotypes and images about mental conditions, and such portrayals have been sturdily connected to the enhancement of public fears regarding individuals with mentally related health conditions. The media portrayals do significantly little to induce the public that people are suffering from mental illnesses can recover; and are productive and active members of the society (Corrigan, 2013). Essentially, there are noteworthy outcomes to the public fears and misperceptions. People are more probable to condone or support forced legal actions and coerced treatments for people suffering from mental health conditions, particularly if offending is perceived as an issue. Offending and stigma/discrimination are usually linked. Discrimination is the actions taken to leave out or treat others in a different way based on their identity and perceived weaknesses, including disability and health conditions (Quinn and Chaudoir, 2009). Experiences of discrimination can result in stigmatisation, which can lead to psychological distress, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. These experiences can not only impede recovery, create several barriers to accessing social health determinants, such as education, housing, and employment but can also precipitate offending behaviours. The offending behaviours may not say necessarily that the individual wanted to, but it is basically as a result of the stress out of stigmatisation and discrimination (Ng, 2011). To this end, discrimination and stigma further impact several issues in a persons life, such as housing, employment, encounters and interpersonal relationships. Research shows that the public is more probable to reject relating with individuals suffering from mental illnesses and less probable to propose them for job opportunities. As a consequence of these kinds of situations, people suffering from mental illnesses are usually hesitant to disclose issues regarding their mental health, and may be susceptible to engage in offending behaviours. Stigmatisation also happens during incarceration. Assaults and threats allegations upon inmates occur in prison settings, which is partly due to usually over-crowded, material deprivation and enclosed spaces that typify correctional facilities. Both female and male inmates suffering mental illnesses are more probable compared to other inmates to an account having been stigmatised by correctional staff and other inmates (DeHart, et al. 2013). People who are suffering from mental conditions, and have had conflict with the law; seem to have more experiences of stigmatisation and lower levels of social support. All of these attributes increase the possibility of further stigmatisation in communities, as well as correctional facilities (Fazel and Grann, 2014). Stigmatisation generates the risk factor for offending behaviour within the general public among people suffering from mental illnesses. Within a vicious circle, acute psychiatric symptoms and history of offense, in turn, augment the risks of further stigmatisation. Therefore, when assessing the research studies on the incidence of offenses among individuals suffering from mental conditions, it is also significant to consider the levels of stigmatisation faced by this vulnerable group. To summarise, public fears of offending behaviours and dangerousness can socially exclude individuals suffering from mental conditions from health and safe environments and consequently, expose them to stigmatisation. The ??Not in my backyard belief, which is known as NIMBYism, leads to neighbourhood residents practicing power of keeping people suffering from mental conditions excluded from the societies within which they live (Corrigan, et al., 2012). Unavailable, precarious or insufficient housing options for individuals suffering from mental conditions restrict people to neighbourhoods that are short of amenities such as social and health agencies, community centres, public transportation, and recreational areas. Residing in marginalised communities create a feeling of insecurity and isolation, and contribute to the worsening mental health conditions. Misconceptions regarding the risk of offenses and dangerousness also generate stigmatisation not only to people suffering from mental health conditions but also among the jurists in their judgments to alleged offenders suffering from mental illnesses (Corrigan and Watson, 2012. The judgments, behaviours and attitudes of court judges toward people suffering from mental illnesses could be the disincentive and unfair for individuals suffering from mental health conditions. 2.4 Link between Mentally Ill and Offending Behaviours Offending behaviours are usually linked to stressors in life, which refer to the events of an individuals life that cause significant stress and anxiety. Stress is often associated with significant and the day-to-day life events, which include life transitions, experiences of stigmatisation or trauma, career changes or loss of job, changes among friends or family structure, as well as loss and grief. Diminishing access to social amenities, such as health, income insecurity, inadequate housing, food insecurity, and unemployment can also bring about life stress (Phillips, 2010). Individuals suffering from acute mental illnesses are many times highly susceptible to these intricate life situations (Sharples, et al. 2013). For instance, individuals suffering from acute mental conditions are 3.8 times more probable to have gone through physical abuse from their guardians/ parents and 2.6 times more probable to get unemployed, lately victimised, or have grown up eye-witnessing physical fights among their parents, comparative to individuals without mental conditions. Individuals are suffering from acute mental illnesses also seem to be more financially underprivileged and reside in neighbourhoods with higher rates of crime. Residing in poor social conditions and going through social exclusion are significant risk variables for offending behaviours in any social set up, not merely among people suffering from mental conditions. What is more, it is essential to note that the act of offending is a learned behaviour. For instance, having observed parents fight is a universal factor among individuals who are offenders. This correlation also appears to uphold among individuals suffering from mental conditions. Relationships have been established between individuals with schizophrenia charged with an offending crime and a related history of offending crime behaviours among their parents or relatives (Callaghan, et al. 2013). This learned offending behaviour is an issue that can be acknowledged and changed. More importantly, offending acts are not all times directed against other people but are also committed against one-self. In this regard, the risk of threatening or committing self-harm is increased among individuals who suffer from mental conditions. The risk variables of executing self-harm entail being younger and male, being in the early stage of a mental condition, having simultaneous drug abuse, as well as having insufficient access to treatment (Junginger, et al. 2014). Several root causes to offending behaviours are identified, which include poverty, racism, family issues, health, community design, education, lack of prospering opportunities, as well as the lack of involvement within the justice system. Therefore, the roots of offending behaviours are multi-faceted and primarily include the lack of accessibility to the social health determinants. Thus, increasing access to social health determinants is a significant strategy for tackling offensive behaviours, as well as promoting mental health. In summary, there is a positive correlation between mentally ill and offending behaviours. Indeed, 1 in 4 individuals suffering from mental conditions is probable to engage in offense behaviours in any given year (Sahota & Chesterman, 2010). As established, people who are suffering from mental illnesses usually face socio-economic deprivation, including unemployment, poverty, inadequate housing, homelessness, and lack of social support, each of which increases the vulnerability to offending behaviours. Also, the trauma and stress of being victimised as a result of offensive behaviours can intensify a persons sense of anxiety and vulnerability, which can worsen symptoms of an individuals mental health condition, increase the possibility of homelessness, as well as diminish their quality of life. 2.5 Sympathy towards Offenders with Mental Health Illness Pustilnik (2014) indicates that there are two basic models that are principally concerned with the way mentally ill lawbreakers are considered in the public consciousness, which include the punitive or moral model, and the therapeutic or medical model. Within the punitive or moral model, mental illnesses are depicted in an insensitive way. The illness is regarded in a similar vein as an individual failing. This means that it is as a result of the failure of a persons responsibility, and is hardly perceived as a concrete health condition. Based on this model, offenders who suffer from mental illnesses are merely failing to control their symptoms and themselves, and also fail to fulfil the socially accepted behavioural methods. It is this responsibility failure that leads to an offense being carried out, in which the mental condition is hardly considered as a direct influencer to the criminal incident. In this regard, the offenders are considered intrinsically deviant, and due to this, any sentence given to the offenders are not probable to take into account the illnesses. Pustilnik (2014) indicates that, largely, the media takes an us-and-them stance, and depict the mentally ill offenders as being totally distinct from the society, which is often represented as being naturally virtuous and moral. On the contrary, the offender is portrayed as unchangeably wicked and deviant. What is more, Pustilnik (2014) indicates that this particular model has been lively throughout history, which is the reason as to why there is a high incarceration rate of the mentally unwell. Morgan, et al. (2010) indicates that the bad or mad? related debates date back long ago in the history of mankind. According to Hiday, et al. (2011) individuals suffering from mental conditions stand a far elevated chance of getting incarcerated during their lifetime. In addition, Hodgins (2013) established that the commonness of mental conditions among the populace of offenders is 4 times higher compared to the commonness among the general public, and it is approximated that people suffering from serious mental conditions are 1.5 times more probable, compared to people with no mental illness, to get incarcerated as opposed to getting hospitalised for treatment. Based on Irish Prison Service (2010) it is also factual that the commonness of the mentally unwell is far elevated in the prison population of Ireland compared to the general population. Regarding the second model, the therapeutic or medical model, mental condition is considered as a medical illness that calls for support and treatment. It is hardly a failure of an individuals responsibility. As Pustilnik (2014) suggests, if there is a failure linked with the mental condition, it is a malfunction of the health system in treating and diagnosing the condition. Offenders with mental illnesses are subsequently perceived in a more considerate way and are considered to need treatment for their health condition as opposed to a sentence of imprisonment. In this regard, they are not innately offenders, but rather they have been made offenders through various circumstances. More importantly, Pustilnik (2014) indicate that, in this model, imprisonment is seen as largely a last resort and a measure that should be considered when treatment has not succeeded. Therefore, concerning this model, punishments given to the offenders are more probable to be lenient. Likewise, much emphasis is put on any mitigating factors leading to the crime, including the illness itself. Pustilnik (2014) proposes that most of the depictions of mentally unwell offenders fall into the punitive or moral model. However, many other researchers have argued that the mental condition is seen as a secondary aspect of the depiction of offenders. In this regard, the depiction of mentally unwell offenders is largely viewed via the lens of age, gender, and of the kind of offense committed, and is therefore profoundly mediated through such. Mental condition is utilised to mitigate the offenses of those lawbreakers already observed as good or in some ways vulnerable, by other factors like gender. In itself, mental health conditions are not seen as a primary attribute of the offender. The mentally unwell stand a far elevated chance of getting incarcerated in their lifetime compared to the general population. On the same note, the mental illness rate is far elevated within the prison population compared to the general population. Therefore, it is apparent that mental condition is an extremely significant factor to offenders. However, it is a major concern that this is hardly revealed in the media. To this end, a research study investigating the reasons as to why the mental condition is considered as a secondary variable within the media is beneficial. 2.6 Age Leniency and Harshness Effect ?? Older Offenders Get More Sympathy? Is the general public Harsher towards Younger Offenders? Discrimination or disparity happens while sentencing when lawbreakers who commit comparable offenses and have similar criminal pasts are given considerably varied sentences. Factors that influence sentencing decisions, which have been universally identified across the literature include extralegal variables entailing individual characteristics and demographics, as well as legal variables, including aggravating and mitigating circumstances on the offense (Link, Andrews, and Cullen, 2012). Also, the reasoning behind the visible inconsistency in sentencing judgments is complicated and extrinsic, although research studies have provided manifold avenues of elucidation. Research has shown that younger lawbreakers are more probable to get harsher sentences compared to the elderly offenders while males are more probable compared to females to get sentenced to jail time (Williams, et al. 2010). Nevertheless, although courts and prisons statistics have been unvarying over time, researchers hardly concur on a single elucidation on the reasons as to why such disparities happen. Many governments require judges to use sentencing guidelines to lessen the occurrences of biases in the sentencing judgments. This aspect is significant to the criminal justice system for justice gets compromised when sentencing drifts from an unbiased and fair methodology of reprimanding criminal offenders. In line with the laws and policies established in courts of law to provide justice and equality for every person, the judicial systems should decide sentences by the details regarding the particular offense, as well as the prior record of the offender, but not personal attributes. Sentencing disparity and discrimination occur in the judicial systems, when extralegal factors, such as age, are used in sentencing and incarceration decisions (Webb, et al. 2013). It would seem that sentencing disparity deserves some special interest among researchers so that research studies can be used to find the disparity patterns, as well as assist in formulating a solution to resolving the matter. The age of an offender getting sentenced or convicted has the potential of influencing judicial and prosecutorial decisions. In general, Americans have shown the trend of treating younger people with more leniency and care as they do not essentially expect them to understand what is wrong or right in every circumstance (Demuth and Doerner, 2010). Thus, in the courts of law, offenders age can influence the leniency of the sentence decided. However, there has been scanty prior research conducted on the influence of age, as a lot of sentencing researchers overlook age and suppose a linear correlation. One study conducted by Kramer, Steffensmeier, and Ulmer (2011) established that the age factor has a curvilinear relationship with sentencing disparity, meaning that the elderly and youthful offenders receive lenient sentences while the middle-aged or young adult offenders receive the harshest punishment. Johnson (2013) also established interesting findings regarding the offenders age as he found that the elderly offenders receive lower sentences compared to young adults. In his findings, Johnson (2013) established that older lawbreakers are viewed as a lesser threat compared to the younger offenders; hence, they are probably to get more lenient sentences. Demuth and Doerner (2010) also asserted in their study results that older offenders receive less harsh sentences compared to younger offenders, even though this effect is less probable to come up in cases entailing females. Steffensmeier et al. (2010) established that offenders aged less than 21 years and above 50 years receive the most lenient sentence judgments while offenders aged between 21 and 29 receive the harshest sentences. Steffensmeier et al. (2010) added that after the age of 30 years, the correlation is linear and reduces as the offenders rise in age. Steffensmeier et al. (2010) and Demuth and Doerner (2010) accounted for age-oriented judicial judgments in the same way as Johnson (2013), all of which proposed that judges view youthful and elderly offenders as a lesser threat to the society compared to the middle-aged adults. Nevertheless, Steffensmeier et al. (2010) established that this age influence also depends on race and gender. In this regard, the age effect largely applies to female offenders if they are above the age of 50 years. Both black and white young adult lawbreakers are often sentenced more harshly compared to any age and race combination. Although the aforementioned research studies established a considerable correlation between the offenders age and sentencing inconsistencies, other demographic factors, such as gender or race, may have affected the observed relationships. Only a few studies have included the age factor as the independent variable; for this reason, further research studies should be done to incorporate a closer view at the age so as to establish any concrete causal correlations with sentencing decisions. While most research studies on sentencing disparity and discrimination have concentrated on the individual influences of age, gender, and race on sentencing judgments, only a very little portion of them have focused on the interrelationship between these three variables. In their study regarding sentencing disparity, Steffensmeier et al. (2010) sought to examine the role of age, gender, and race on sentencing decisions. This is because they thought that the three variables are interrelated to each other, in which they argued that no earlier research study had been conducted within this context beforehand. The results of Steffensmeier et al. (2010) shown that if an offender is a young and black male, then they are the most probable to get a harsher sentence. Also, the influence of race is sturdier on younger offenders compared to older offenders, especially among males. The age of an offender is more influential in the sentencing for males compared to females. Steffensmeier et al. (2010) also established that the variables affect each other and that the interrelationship of the variables is more significant comparative to the factors on their own. Demuth and Doerner (2010) and established that young and black males are probable to receive the harshest sentence in any age-gender-race group. Even though there could be other factors contributing to the aforementioned correlations, research studies have clearly established that judges are increasingly somewhat depending on extralegal factors during their process of decision making. These research findings are noteworthy in the sense that they bring profound implications to the light, which actors within the criminal justice systems should acknowledge, research, as well as attempt to solve. The sentiments of Steffensmeier et al. (2010) are supported by Everett and Wojtkiewicz (2002) who argue that for the same type of offense, offenders who are younger tend to get harsher punishments compared to offenders who are older. Like other researchers, they add that there is no real agreement or consensus among scholars regarding the cause of this. This is because the statistics provided criminal justice agencies do not often include probable causes (Everett & Wojtkiewicz, 2002). As a result, different scholars have different reasons of explaining or attempting to explain why there tends to be age-related disparities in sentencing. However, they add that when offenders are black and male, the age-related disparities tend to increase. This means that race and gender often serve as mitigating or enhancing conditions for age-related disparities in sentencing (Everett & Wojtkiewicz, 2002). Generally, many studies on age-related influences on sentencing abound. To a very large extent, there seems to be agreement that age plays a very critical role in influencing sentences fore the same crimes. However, differences emerge with regard to how exactly this happens. Some scholars (Everett & Wojtkiewicz, 2002; Scott et al., 2006) argue that the older an offender is the harsher the punishment and vice versa. Others, however, believe that very young and very old offenders get lenient sentences whole those in their middle ages (youth adults) tend to get harsher sentences (Steffensmeier, Kramer & Ulmer, 1995). In the American context, younger offenders are generally treated with leniency because courts do not expect them to know the consequences of at least some of their actions. Since knowledge of right and wrong are core in determining courses of action, it is only natural for courts to be lenient with offenders who are most likely to have acted based on wrong assumptions. It so happens that younger offenders tend to be act without due regard to the implications of their actions. The same applies offenders who are very old. As people age, they tend to lose control over their mental faculties and as such some of their actions tend to be out of the norm (Steffensmeier, Ulmer & Kramer, 1998). Having noted that, it is generally more common for older offenders (including the very old) to be handed harsher punishments than younger ones, and this explains the unprecedented rise older people who have been incarcerated. According to a Human Rights Watch report Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States, sentenced state and federal prisoners aged 65 years and above increased 94 times the rate of total prison population between 2007 and 2010 (Human Rights Watch, 2012). The sentenced prisoners aged 55 and above increased 6 times of the overall prison population between 1995 and 2010 (Human Rights Watch, 2012). Outside the US, courts generally tend to be lenient with older adults, especially with the very old. This is because they are often considered to be less dangerous, to pose very limited ?? if any ?? threat to society, and to generally be law-abiding as a result of having learnt through experience what is right and wrong (Roberts & Hough, 2005). 2.7 How Sympathy and Dangerousness Perceptions Differ by Offence Type The fact that sentencing takes into consideration the dangerousness of the offender cannot be denied. However, sympathy also plays a moderating effect on sentencing such that some offenders will get lenient sentences while others will get harsher sentences for the same offence type (Ashworth, 2010). Under such circumstances, it would be naturally difficult for the courts to make a fair balance between dangerousness and sympathy. To overcome this dilemma, courts have to examine the type of offence committed and not just factors such as age, race, and gender of the offender. The tendency is for more sympathy to be shown offenders who commit offences that are not considered serious or where there has been little or no harm done. On the contrary, offenders who use force and commit very serious offences (such as robbery with violence) are often shown little sympathy because they are deemed to be very dangerous (Scott et al., 2006). Essentially, therefore, the more dangerous an offender is perceived to be the less sympathy one is shown and the harsher the sentence is likely to be. On the contrary, less dangerous offenders get more lenient sentences because they are shown more sympathy (Everett & Wojtkiewicz, 2002). To determine the level of dangerousness and therefore the level of sympathy an offender can be shown, courts often examine the real underlying motivation of the offender, the prevailing conditions, and the implications of the offence (such as harm caused or property lost). Therefore, dangerousness is likely to be the most dominant consideration when sentencing, prevailing over other considerations such as sympathy. 2.8 Conclusion As it has been established in this literature review, offending and stigma/discrimination are usually linked. People are suffering from mental health conditions, which have offended others, seem to have more experiences of stigmatisation and lower levels of social support. The age of an offender getting sentenced or convicted has the potential of influencing judicial and prosecutorial decisions. Thus, in the courts of law, offenders age can influence the lenience of the sentence decided. While some studies have shown that the elderly and youthful offenders receive lenient sentences while the middle aged or young adult offenders receive the harshest punishment, others have established that older lawbreakers are viewed as a lesser threat compared to the younger offenders; hence, they are probable to get more lenient sentences. Also, it has been established that there is a positive correlation between mentally ill and offending behaviours. Indeed, 1 in 4 individuals suffering from mental conditions is probable to engage in offense behaviours in any given year. The literature review has also elucidated the two basic models that are principally concerned with the way mentally ill lawbreakers are considered in the public consciousness, which include the punitive or moral model, and the therapeutic or medical model. The therapeutic or medical model holds that punishments given to the mentally ill offenders are more probable to be lenient while the punitive or moral model does not support leniency. 2.7 Research Study This research study aims to measure attitudes towards offenders with mental health illnesses and if older offenders are treated more leniently than younger offenders for the same offence. This will be considered by members of the general population. In research by Quinn et al. (2009), the findings suggest that older members of the public showed more sympathy towards those with a mental health illness. In relation to this, this study will also look if there is a relationship between participant age and overall attitudes towards offenders with a mental illness. It is predicted that: (1) Perceptions of an individuals guilt will be negatively affected by that of the offenders age; (2) Perceptions of an offenders responsibility will be affected by their mental health status; (3) Perceptions of an individuals likelihood of having committed a previous offence will be affected by age and mental health status; (4) Perception of an individuals propensity to reoffend will be negatively affected by age.(5) Perception of

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