There is a relatively long tradition by legal scholars of gauging public perceptions about sentencing in Canada, the UK and the USA, along with limited research in Australia. This research is significant because 'the importance of public attitudes to sentencing lies in their potential to influence the development of policy guiding the criminal justice system'. Public confidence is essential for the effective functioning of justice. While it is the case that politicians and legislators make the laws, and judges and other justice agents (eg, police and prosecutors) apply them, the public has a role to play in guiding the types of punishments meted out. Thus, measuring public opinion is necessary because it is both a reflection of, and a potential influence over, sentencing practices.