Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America

Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America

As part of the public safety performance project's work with states to improve public safety and control corrections costs, we collaborated with two of the nation's leading polling firms, The Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, to explore public opinion on sentencing and corrections issues across the country.

The firms conducted a national survey of 1,200 likely voters to measure underlying attitudes and support for specific policy changes as well as three state surveys in Georgia, Oregon, and Missouri.

Key Takeaways from the National Survey:

  • American voters believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment.
  • Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.
  • Support for sentencing and corrections reforms (including reduced prison terms) is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

The poll tested public support for a variety of sentencing and correction reforms, and there is widespread support for shorter sentences and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent crimes, especially when prison savings are reinvested in less costly supervision options.

The Mellman Group has provided sophisticated opinion research and strategic advice to political leaders, public interest organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies for over 30 years. Current clients include the majority leader of the U.S. Senate and the Democratic whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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 19 U.S. senators, six governors, and over 70 members of Congress as clients. Public Opinion Strategies also works for some of America's largest corporations and associations in the public affairs realm.