Public Attitudes on Crime and Punishment

Public Attitudes on Crime and Punishment

As part of the Public Safety Performance Project's work in the states to protect public safety and control corrections costs, we worked with two of the nation's leading polling firms, Public Opinion Strategies and the Benenson Strategy Group, to explore public attitudes toward crime and punishment. The firms conducted focus groups and a national survey of voters to measure support for policy change and enhance the way we communicate about these complicated issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Voters are concerned first and foremost with keeping communities and people safe.
  • Voters want a strong public safety system where criminals are held accountable and there are consequences for illegal activities.
  • Voters believe a strong public safety system is possible while reducing the size and cost of the prison system.

On September 14, 2010, Pew hosted a webinar with Public Opinion Strategies and the Benenson Strategy Group to share the research findings. Download the slides from the full presentation (Adobe PDF).

Public Opinion Strategies is a leading national political, public policy and public affairs research firm. Public Opinion Strategies is widely recognized as the nation's leading Republican polling firm, listing 17 U.S. senators, seven governors, and over 40 members of Congress as clients. Public Opinion Strategies also works for some of America's largest corporations and associations in the public affairs realm.

The Benenson Strategy Group is a globally recognized research and consulting firm with advanced expertise in developing winning strategies based on a clear analysis of the attitudes and beliefs that voters and consumers bring to their decision making. Their clients include presidential candidates, governors and members of Congress, as well as international labor unions, Fortune 100 companies and major nonprofits.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.