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Students' Emotional Reactions and Sentence Recommendations regarding Drug Use during Pregnancy
AuthorThomas, Alane L.
AdvisorMiller, Monica K.
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Researchers have studied drug use during pregnancy, but few have addressed community sentiment about drug use during pregnancy. This study examines individuals' emotional reactions and recommended legal responses (e.g., punishment, rehabilitation) regarding drug use during pregnancy. Specifically, it measured whether recommended punishment or rehabilitation sentences were affected by 1) drug type, 2) severity of the baby's injury, 3) whether the woman quit using during pregnancy, and 4) whether the woman had a previous baby (and that baby's outcome). It investigated the differences between criminal justice, health and other majors as well as possible differences between genders of respondents. While there were no significant response differences between college majors or by gender, results suggest that as the severity of the baby's injury increased the recommended sentences became harsher no matter what drug was used; however, methamphetamine users got the most punitive sentence recommendations while cigarette users got the least. There was leniency in sentence recommendations if the woman quit using drugs during pregnancy and the sentence recommendations were more punitive if there was a previous baby no matter what that baby's outcome was. Finally the study examined whether a doctor should turn in a woman who had a healthy baby, but was known to have used illegal drugs, whether all pregnant women should be drug tested and whether only pregnant women suspected of drug use should be tested. There was strong support for each inquiry.