Assessing Motivations for Punishment: The Sentencing Goals Inventory

Jake W. Plantz, Tess M.S. Neal, Carl B. Clements, Abigayl M. Perelman, Sarah L. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of these studies was to develop a novel measurement, the Sentencing Goals Inventory (SGI), for understanding the underlying people’s motivations for punishing justice-involved individuals. Prior scales have focused on punishment motives such as utilitarianism (incapacitation or deterrence) and retribution (“just deserts”) but have not assessed a rehabilitation motive (punishment with the goal of addressing the cause of criminality) in tandem. Building on the previous unpublished work by Perelman and colleagues (2010), we conducted four new studies on the SGI. A slightly modified version of the scale emerged as a well-fitting model for sentencing goals. It displayed good reliability across samples, internal structure validity, and discriminant and convergent validity with other measures. This work provides a strong basis of evidence for the SGI as a measure of current social attitudes toward criminal justice sanctions and punishment that can be used in future research and to inform public policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-162
Number of pages24
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • measurement
  • policy
  • psychology
  • punishment
  • sentencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


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