Poll shows overwhelming support from Kentuckians for criminal justice reform
(Washington, DC) – White House Senior Aide Jared Kushner was a surprise participant in a press call today organized by Justice Action Network and FreedomWorks that unveiled a Kentucky poll on criminal justice reform policies. Kushner and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined Holly Harris of Justice Action Network and Jason Pye of FreedomWorks to discuss the results of the poll and why the time is now to get this legislation to the President’s desk. Just days ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to whip votes on the prison and sentencing reform bill, but stopped just short of promising a floor vote. So, Justice Action Network and FreedomWorks commissioned a poll by well-known conservative pollster Robert Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies to show Leader McConnell how his constituents back home in Kentucky feel about these policies. The following data points were identified as the major takeaways from the poll:
- 82% of Kentucky registered voters believe the country’s criminal justice system needs significant improvement, including 82% of Republicans and 90% of Independents.
- 70% of Kentucky registered voters want Leader McConnell to bring a criminal reform package to the floor for a vote, including 86% of Republicans.
- 82% of Kentucky registered voters believe that a person convicted of non-violent drug offenses should not be sentenced to life in prison, including 82% of Republicans.
- 71% of Kentucky registered voters believe that updated sentencing reform laws should apply to all people even those who have been sentenced in the past, including 65% of Republicans.
“This bill will help a lot of people but will also keep our communities safer, which is a big priority for the President,” said Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump.
“In a time in which Washington is so divided on so many issues and there’s so much partisanship, criminal justice reform is one thing we can actually agree on,” said Senator Rand Paul. “This is a no-brainer…something where the right and left can come together. In Kentucky it’s overwhelmingly popular, no matter who you are or what party you’re in. The state of Kentucky wants this and I think the country wants this.”
“Criminal justice reform is only controversial in Washington. But if you move out of the Beltway and into backyards across America, people will tell you the old policies of the past aren’t working, and we need a new approach to public safety. Especially in places like Kentucky, where we have just been ravaged by the drug epidemic, people don’t want to throw the towel in on the friends and family members,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network. “Voters on the right and the left understand that rehabilitation makes us all safer, and second chances make our families stronger. We hope Washington is listening, and they will make time for a vote on desperately needed prison and sentencing reforms this year.”
“Members from both parties realize that we have a problem and it’s time to take action,” said Jason Pye, Vice President of FreedomWorks. “This poll shows prison reform and modest sentencing provisions that could be added to the bill have strong support among Kentuckians. This is an easy win and the passage of this bill would improve our justice system and make prisoners more accountable. We need to get this done and we need to get this done this year. Enough talking, it’s time for action.”
“There’s just not a lot of issues where you have support that extends across party lines in the 60s, 70s, 80s, especially in this kind of hyperpolarized environment,” said Robert Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies. “It is a no-brainer issue for a lot of voters. By a 70-14 margin, which is pretty overwhelming, Kentucky voters want Leader McConnell to bring the sentencing and prison reform bill to the floor. That includes 86% of Republicans, and even 59% of Democrats.”
Public Opinion Strategies polls for both the State House and Senate Majorities in Kentucky, along with a quarter of Congress and a dozen U.S. Senators. Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working at both the state and federal level to reform the justice system, partners with FreedomWorks to support legislation that will safely reduce incarceration, give people a second chance, and improve public safety.