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US: Public Attitudes on Crime and Punishment

12th October 2010

The Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project worked with two polling firms to explore public attitudes toward crime and punishment, including focus groups and a national survey of voters to measure support for policy change. The report was published Sept 2010, and reveals that the general public is less punitive than the policies currently in place.

"The bottom line... let's reduce crime."

Key findings:

  • Voters are concerned first and foremost with keeping communities and people safe.
  • Voters want a strong public safety system where criminals are held accountable and there are consequences for illegal activities.
  • Voters believe a strong public safety system is possible while reducing the size and cost of the prison system.
  • Voters do demonstrate receptivity to public safety reform approaches that can simultaneously reduce reliance on prison and shrink state budgets.

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