CONFIDENCE IN THE CRIMINAL AND JUVENILE JUSTICE
SYSTEMS AND THEIR COMPONENTS

• The vast majority of Texans have “a great deal” or “some” confidence in both their local police department (83%) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) (86%).

• The local adult court system received the second highest level of confidence (67%).

• Fifty-seven percent of respondents had “a great deal” or “some” confidence in adult prisons.

• Forty-eight percent expressed “little” or “no” confidence in the adult parole system.

• Texans report lower levels of confidence in the agencies dealing with juveniles (as opposed to adults) across all components of the system as well as the system as a whole.

• White respondents were significantly more likely to express “a great deal” or “some” confidence in their local police department, the DPS, the local adult court system, and the adult prison system than were Hispanics, Black/African-Americans and people from “other” ethnic groups.

• Those with a high school education or less are more likely to have “little” or “no” confidence in the DPS than those who have “some college” education or beyond.

• Respondents who are familiar with the system’s components were significantly more likely to state that they have “some” or “a great deal of” confidence in the systems and their components.

• People are considerably more familiar with the law enforcement components than any other parts of the criminal or juvenile justice systems.

• Hispanics and Black/African-Americans were significantly less likely to report familiarity with their local police department, DPS, adult court system, and the adult prison system than were Whites and “others.”

• Males were more likely to report familiarity with their local police department, the DPS, the local adult and juvenile court systems, the state adult and juvenile prison systems, the adult parole system, and both the criminal and juvenile justice systems as a whole.

• The majority of Texans who have had direct agency contact express “a great deal” or “some” confidence in that particular component of the system.
 FEAR OF CRIME AND LIKELIHOOD OF CRIMINAL VICTIMIZATION

• Over the past twenty years, there has been relatively little change in the overall level of fear people have about becoming the victim of a crime.

• Fifty-nine percent of this year’s sample expressed fear that they would become the victim of one of the crimes listed in 1998 compared with 57% of the 1978 sample.

• Today’s citizens are considerably more afraid of personal violent crimes than were those included in the 1978 study.

• In 1978, only 7% of the sample felt that they would become the victim of an unarmed assault.  This figure almost doubled in 1998 with 12% of the sample expressing such a fear.

• The number of people thinking they might become the victim of an armed assault jumped from 8% in 1978 to 14% in 1998.

• Between 1978 and 1998, there was a 10% decrease in the number of Texans who report being afraid that they will become the victim of a burglary.

• Males were significantly more likely than females to report fear that they would become the victim of vandalism and assault with a weapon.

• Significantly more males than females reported fear of becoming the victim of one of the crimes included in the survey.

• Black/African-American and Hispanic respondents were significantly more likely to report fear of becoming the victim of an arson during the next 12 months as were respondents falling into the lowest income group.

• White and Hispanic respondents were significantly more likely than Black/African-Americans to report fear that they would become the victim of at least one of the crimes listed.

 • One-third of the 1998 sample reported they would be afraid of walking within a mile of their home at nighttime compared with over one-half of the 1978 sample.

• Twenty-one percent of the 1998 sample reported that they were afraid of being alone in their own homes at night compared with 46% of the 1978 sample.

• Women and Black/African-American respondents appear to be considerably less afraid of being alone in their own homes today than they were in 1978.

• Women also seem to be less afraid of walking near their homes alone at night than they were in 1978.

• Women, people in the lower income groups, minority group members, and younger people were significantly more likely to report that they sometimes felt afraid of being alone in their own homes at night.

 CURRENT ISSUES FACING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

• Sixty-nine percent of the respondents stated that they thought juveniles charged with property crimes should be tried as adults, and 88% favored handling juvenile offenders charged with personal violent crimes as adults.

• More than one-half of the respondents would recommend waiting until juveniles charged with any type of crime had reached the age of 16 before trying them as adults.

• Slightly more than one-third (33%) of the respondents supported trying juveniles as young as 13 years old who have been charged with personal violent crimes as adults.

• In 1978, only a little more than one-quarter of the respondents thought that either movie or television violence was causing a large increase in the crime rate.  In 1998, these figures almost doubled, with 47% of the respondents reporting that showing crime and violence in movies causes there to be a large increase in the actual rate of crime, and 48% report similar beliefs about the depiction of crime and violence on television.

• Thirty-six percent of the 1998 sample believe that the depiction of violence and crime in music contributes to an increase in the overall rate of crime.

• Younger people were significantly less likely to associate any of the different media with increases in crime rates than were older people.

• Black/African-Americans were significantly less likely to draw an association between the media’s portrayal of crime and violence and changes in the crime rates.

• Almost 80% of Texas’ citizens say they support the death penalty for women convicted of murder while 83% of the citizens supported the death penalty for murder without any mention of the gender of the convicted murderer.

• Forty-nine percent of those surveyed believe that juveniles convicted of murder should be given the death penalty while 42% clearly oppose its use in such cases.

• Among those who did support the use of the death penalty for juveniles convicted of murder, the most frequently mentioned “minimum age” for its use was 16 years old representing 13% of those who support the death penalty for juveniles and identified a minimum age for its application.

• One-third of the respondents who suggested a minimum age for the execution of juveniles would be willing to apply the death sentence to juveniles 13 years of age or younger.

• Women and Black/African-Americans are the least likely to support the use of the death penalty against either juveniles or women.  Males, white respondents, and those with the highest levels of both income and education are the most likely to support the application of the death penalty to women or juveniles.

• Seventy-three percent of the respondents who initially supported the death penalty continued their support, even with the availability of a “true life sentence.”

• Thirty-one percent of the sample would oppose the death penalty if there were a “true life sentence” as an option.

• Older respondents, Whites and Hispanics, and respondents from the highest income groups were significantly more likely to be “true death penalty supporters” than were respondents from other demographic groups.

• Forty-six percent of Texans said they would support legislation replacing the death penalty with a “true life sentence.”

• Seventy-four percent would support legislation creating a “true life sentence” while continuing to retain the death penalty as a sentencing option.

• White and Hispanic respondents, those respondents with the highest levels of education, and those with the lowest levels of income were significantly more likely to support legislation that would replace the death penalty with a “true life sentence.”

• White respondents were also significantly more likely to support legislation creating a “true life sentence” as an additional sanction while retaining the death penalty as an option.