If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What America Thinks: Behind Bars

What’s the biggest problem with the prison system these days? Is it too many non-violent offenders filling up prisons, too many innocent people getting arrested or too many criminals set free? We decided to find out what America thinks.

Most Americans think too many criminals being set free is a bigger problem for U.S. law enforcement and the legal system than too many innocent people getting arrested. But 45% of voters also agree there are too many Americans in prison today.

Last summer, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker initiated bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. criminal justice system, in part to reduce the U.S. prison population. Hillary Clinton and other presidential candidates in both parties have since joined the cause, calling for expanded drug treatment as an alternative to prison, easing mandatory minimum sentences and releasing nonviolent offenders pending trial without bail.

Voters are evenly divided over the use of mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes but strongly support the use of alternative drug treatment programs instead of jail time for those convicted of non-violent, drug-related crimes.

Americans say heroin abuse is a bigger problem in their community than it was five years ago, and there is little to no support for legalizing hard drugs. But voters are closely divided over whether marijuana should be legalized in their state. Once thing most agree on, however, is that America is losing the war on drugs.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.