The Coalition for Public Safety, the nation’s largest bipartisan organization working to reform our criminal justice system, has released the final results of an ongoing tracking poll, revealing a growing wave of support for smart justice reform. Amid a contentious political process, a growing majority of respondents support measures to change sentencing practices to be tailored to individual circumstances, to reduce federal spending on incarceration for non-violent offenses, and to focus on rehabilitating people convicted of crimes. While these results come at a moment of deep political polarization, they reveal a commitment to rethinking our justice system that crosses the lines of party, class, and race.
“The criminal justice system presently incarcerates too many people for non-violent offenses and at a tremendous cost,” said Coalition for Public Safety President Steve Hawkins. “These results demonstrate that the public recognizes the need for justice reform in order to make our system fairer, more efficient, and effective for all Americans while ensuring public safety. By focusing resources on effective crime-reducing strategies, we can improve outcomes for both communities and law enforcement.”
In four states, voters expressed increased support for smart justice system reforms.
- In Florida, 64 percent of voters agree that too much money is being spent on jailing non-violent offenders, an increase of 9 percent from the last poll.
- In Missouri, 69 percent of voters agreed that what really matters is that the criminal justice system does a better job of making sure that when an offender does get out, whether after months or years, they are less likely to commit another crime, up 6 percent.
- New Hampshire and Wisconsin voters also showed increased support for this recidivism-reduction focus, each with an increase of 7 percent to 66 and 71 percent of all voters, respectively.
Ed Goeas, President and CEO of The Tarrance Group, which conducted the poll, said, “There’s been remarkable consistency on the issue of justice reform throughout this polling effort. Now that we are just days away from federal, state, and local elections across this country, it is imperative that candidates take note of this data as it reflects the minds of voters who are casting ballots.”
There is broad, bipartisan agreement in every state surveyed for justice reform:
- The federal government is spending too many tax dollars keeping non-violent offenders behind bars.
- The main goal of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitating criminals to become productive, law-abiding citizens.
- What really matters is that the criminal justice system does a better job of making sure that when an offender does get out, whether after months or years, they are less likely to commit another crime.
- Sentences should be tailored to address the individual circumstances of each case instead of having a one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum system.
The Coalition for Public Safety commissioned interactive voice response polls beginning in July 2016. All of the polls have shown strong support both for justice reform and more judicial discretion to tailor sentencing to individual cases, regardless of political affiliation. View the first set of results here.