Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson, Ph.D., J.D.

Second Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuna, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Sather, Psy.D.


Criminal sentencing, Moral matrices

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.


Criminal sentencing in the United States has shifted over the years. This paper outlines the current role morality plays in the sentencing and punishment of criminals. Recent work in moral psychology points the way to a better approach. Jonathan Haidt’s moral matrices, from his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, provide a signpost for more efficacious treatment of those on parole or under community supervision, overall contributing to the reduction of recidivism. In sum, Haidt’s work in moral psychology could lead to fairer sentencing and more effective treatment.


30 pgs

Paper Method

Theoretical Analysis and Synthesis