NEW POLL: Voter Support Sky High for Bipartisan Justice Reforms, Especially Among Women Voters

Karly News, Press

Poll Unveiled by the Justice Action Network Shows Strong Support Among Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Key Demographics for Mid-Terms   


Washington, D.C. – A new poll released today by the Justice Action Network — the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system federally and across the country — reveals voter support for bipartisan justice reforms is overwhelmingly high, especially among women, who remain a crucial voting bloc heading into the 2018 midterm elections, and may determine the makeup of the House in November. The polling, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies among 800 registered voters between January 11 and January 14, tested voters’ opinions on a variety of policies reflected in current federal legislation, including prison reform, fair chance hiring, sentencing reform, expungement, and reforms for incarcerated women.

On a press call today, JAN was joined by Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) – both sponsors of the Prison Reform and Redemption Act – and Rob Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies, who shared highlights from the poll, including the following key findings:

  • General Criminal Justice Reform: By a 76%‐21% margin, voters believe the country’s criminal justice system needs 
significant improvements versus it’s working pretty well as it is, including 80% of women voters.
  • Prison Reform: By an 85%‐13% margin, voters agree that the main goal of our criminal justice system should be rehabilitating people. Significant majorities of Republicans (79%), Independents (83%), and Democrats (92%) agree with this approach
  • Sentencing Reform: An overwhelming majority of voters (87%‐11%) strongly support replacing mandatory minimum sentences for non‐violent offenders with a system that allows judges more discretion. Support is strong from the right to the left among Republicans (83%), Independents (88%) and Democrats (89%).
  • Women: It’s nearly unanimous that voters support reforms specific to incarcerated women, the fastest growing segment of the prison population: 90% support providing basic hygiene products to incarcerated women free of charge, and 86% would ban the shackling of pregnant women.
  • Fair Chance Hiring: Fully two‐thirds of voters (65%‐33%) support fair chance hiring ‐‐ allowing job applicants to explain their qualifications for a job before they are asked about their criminal histories.

“With these eye-popping numbers, I’m hopeful Washington may finally get on the same page as the American voters,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network.  “Our federal prison population has exploded over the past few decades — especially the population of incarcerated women. States across this country, including red states like Ohio, Georgia, and Kentucky, are doing something about their unsustainable incarceration rates, and seeing positive public safety results. But for some reason, there has been a disconnect between Washington and what’s happening in federal lawmakers’ backyards.

“On the heels of the White House’s prison reform listening session, and with this remarkably positive polling, I’m more hopeful than ever before that action on the Hill is imminent. And this poll is clear that those who support reform legislation will see a positive response at the ballot box.”

“This is not a partisan issue–voters strongly believe that the country’s criminal justice system needs serious improvements,” said Robert Blizzard, Partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “Significant majorities of Republican and Democratic voters across the country favor these reforms, including key 2018 target constituencies like independent voters and women voters. I can’t emphasize enough how strongly voters support these reforms. As a political pollster looking towards 2018 I think all politicians should pay attention. Go back to 2006, women voted for the democratic candidate by double digits. In 2010, women favored the GOP candidate and helped deliver the house to Republicans. Key constituencies are strong on these reforms and they can help give a lift to candidates everywhere.”

“There’s things we will disagree on, but when it comes down to the fundamentals of human worth, human dignity, human value and worth, this is not a partisan issue,” said Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) on a call unveiling the poll today. “This is something we all need to work on and be a part of… For me, this is about stewardship. Its about stewardship of financial resources but also of the infinite worth of people. The Prison Reform and Redemption Act is one we can move on and see results… What we got in this legislation is something that will help us save money and save lives. After making mistakes, people should be able to go through the process ready to be recommitted to their families and communities. That’s the gold standard.  Prison reform speaks to the heart, the wallet, and to the cynic because everyone can understand why we need to do this. This is something that Americans can look at and be proud of.”

“What I’ve found in my time in Washington, is the best way to get things done in D.C. is to assemble a coalition of what I call the ‘unusual suspects,’” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) on the call. “And the really good news in Congress is folks on the left and right; progressives and conservatives; Democrats and Republicans all agree that it’s time to do something about over-criminalization in America and fix our broken criminal justice system. A great place to start is prison reform… We’re all excited about working with Congressman Collins as well as our allies in the Senate on the Republican and Democratic side. And we have been heartened by the interest the White House has shown in trying to get something done on this issue. I look forward to continuing the work with Congressman Collins and all the advocates to get this legislation over the finish line.”

More information about the poll can be accessed on the Justice Action Network’s website by clicking here.