Strong and widespread support for reform
We have also seen dramatic progress on the public opinion front, with a clear understanding from voters that the criminal justice system needs more reform, not less. Recent polling shows that by a nearly 2 to 1 margin respondents prefer addressing social and economic problems over strengthening law enforcement to reduce crime. Nearly nine-in-ten Black adults say policing, the judicial process, and the prison system need major changes for Black people to be treated fairly. Seventy percent of all voters (see figure 3) and 80 percent of Black voters believe it’s important to reduce the number of people in jail and prison. Eighty percent of all voters, including nearly three-fourths of Republican voters, support criminal justice reforms.
This is not only a blue state phenomenon. Recent polling in Mississippi indicates strong support across the political spectrum for bold policies that reduce incarceration. For example, according to polling from last month, 72 percent of Mississippians, including majorities from both parties, believe it is important to reduce the number of people in prison (see figure 4). Perhaps most tellingly, across the country victims of crime also support further reforms to our criminal justice system over solutions that rely on jail stays and harsh prison sentences.
Source: Mississippi Poll Analyzing Public Support for Criminal Justice Reform. Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, October 2023.