Public Opinion on Criminal Justice Reform in Massachusetts

Published Date : June 22, 2017
Author(s) : Rich Parr and Steve Koczela

Massachusetts voters are ready to embrace major reforms to the state’s criminal justice system. A new MassINC poll shows most support reforms to both the front and back ends of the system to reduce repeat offending and refocus the system on prevention and rehabilitation. Voters perceive the current system as counterproductive; prisons are seen as making recidivism worse (53 percent) rather than lessening crime (27 percent). A plurality of voters say Massachusetts incarcerates too many residents.

Even as the US Department of Justice appears poised to return to tough-on-crime strategies, Massachusetts voters want to move in the other direction, ending mandatory minimum sentences, enabling those with convictions to seal their records sooner, raising the felony theft threshold, and allowing compassionate release for those with terminal illness.

There is considerable bipartisan consensus on many of these policies, a rarity in these times of sharp polarization on nearly every issue. Of the reforms tested, Democrats tend to be more enthusiastic, but smaller majorities of independent and Republican voters support most of these policy changes as well.

Meet The Authors

Rich Parr

Senior Research Director, The MassINC Polling Group

Steve Koczela

President, The MassINC Polling Group

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