The research is clear: jail stays and long sentences do not reduce crime rates. Mass incarceration breaks apart families, destabilizes communities and aggravates the very types of racial and economic inequality that make communities more vulnerable to gun violence. We must turn to evidence-based solutions now as we protect and advance the critical wins on criminal justice reform and continue the work of making our country both safer and more just.
The structural inequalities embedded in our society causes Black communities to bear a disproportionate share of the harms of both incarceration and of crime.
New public opinion research shows that Black voters’ strong support for bold criminal justice reform and reduing incarceration has sustained through both real increases in gun violence and sensationalized "crime wave" reporting and campaigning. Black voters understand that safety and justice are not in conflict and expect their elected officials and candidates to deliver both.
Over the last decade, policymakers and voters in red, blue, and purple jurisdictions have advanced criminal justice reforms that safely reduced prison and jail populations, expanding freedom and opportunities to tens of millions of Americans.
Now more than ever we must remind ourselves that the criminal legal reform movement is strong, the number of people in prisons and jails is lower than it’s been in recent history, and the data about the compatibility of safer, stronger communities and less incarceration is on our side.
New polling shows voters from both parties want their elected officials and candidates to support bold reforms, including state and federal policy changes, that would reduce incarceration.
Americans deserve real solutions to the rise in gun violence, not a return to the failed policies that brought us mass incarceration. Evidence and experience tells us we can–and we must–have more safety and more justice together.
Recent electoral, legislative and policy victories in support of criminal justice reform across the country show that Americans still want more criminal justice reform, not less.
Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by both mass incarceration and gun violence, which is why it’s critical their voice be uplifted in this moment. New polling shows that Black voters overwhelmingly support reforms that reduce incarceration and investments that address the root causes of violence.
8 in 10 likely voters support criminal justice reform, including 74% of Republicans, 80% of independents, and 85% of Democrats
3 in 4 Black voters (77%) believe the criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul or major reform
People in 2021 were 80% less likely to be a victim of a violent crime than in 1993.
Voters are more than twice as likely to believe we need more reforms to reduce incarceration than to believe we should undo policy changes that have reduced incarceration.
A majority of states have experienced reductions in both crime and imprisonment – and crime fell faster in states that reduced imprisonment than in states that increased imprisonment.
The U.S. continues to incarcerate more people than any other country in the world, and nearly half of all people in the United States have experienced incarceration in their family. This is a crisis.
New research shows how important it is for the media to drop harmful labels such as “felon,” “offender,” and “inmate” from their reporting. Far from being neutral descriptors, these terms bias news readers and viewers against directly impacted people and criminal justice reform.
On any given day, there are 2.1 million people locked up in America’s jails and prisons. During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals impacted by the criminal justice system have been shown to be especially vulnerable.
Crime, Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform