Criminal Justice Reform
Photo: Stefano Mazzone

A public opinion poll conducted for the American Civil Liberties Union Campaign for Smart Justice showed widespread support for criminal-justice reform across the ideological and political spectrum.

The poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11, found that:

  • Ninety-one percent of Americans said the criminal justice system has problems that need fixing.
  • Eighty-four percent of Americans said people with mental health disabilities belong in mental health programs instead of prison.
  • Seventy-one percent of Americans agreed that “sending someone to prison for a long sentence increases the chances that he or she will commit another crime when they get out because prison doesn’t do a good job of rehabilitating problems like drug addiction and mental illness.”
  • Only one in three agreed that black people are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
  • Seventy-one percent said the nation’s prison population needs to be reduced, including 87 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 57 percent of Republicans.
  • Two in three Americans, including 65 percent of Trump voters, said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported reducing the prison population and using the savings for drug treatment and mental health programs.

“Americans reject President Trump’s 1990s-era tough-on-crime approach and overwhelmingly believe in a different and smarter approach,” said Udi Ofer, deputy national political director and Campaign for Smart Justice director at the ACLU.

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