ACLU Nationwide Poll on Criminal Justice Reform

Document Date: July 15, 2015

Commissioned by the ACLU and administered by the Benenson Strategy Group, a national survey was conducted from June 2-6, 2015 focused on criminal justice reform. The poll reveals an overwhelming consensus among voters of the three leading political parties and various political leanings about how to reduce the U.S. prison population and the path forward to reform.

All respondents were registered voters who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election. It found, in part:

  • Republicans and Democrats alike say that communities will be safer when the criminal justice system reduces the number of people behind bars and increases the treatment of mental illness and addiction, which are seen as primary root causes of crime.
  • Overall, 69% of voters say it is important for the country to reduce its prison populations, including 81% of Democrats, 71% of Independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • In a sharp shift away from the 1980s and 1990s, when incarceration was seen as a tool to reduce crime, voters now believe by two-to-one that reducing the prison population will make communities safer by facilitating more investments in crime prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

87% of respondents agree that drug addicts and those with mental illness should not be in prison, they belong in treatment facilities.

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