Poll shows broad support for criminal justice reform

(MGN Online)

First Step Act reportedly nearing congressional action

As President Donald Trump is reported to be on the verge of an endorsement of the First Step Act, the Justice Action Network has released results of a new exit poll showing overwhelming voter support for key provisions of the bill, a prison and sentencing reform package negotiated by Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin.

The poll was conducted by Robert Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies, a prominent conservative polling firm.

Among the key findings in the poll:

  • 76 percent of voters believe judges should be able to depart below mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases when they feel the punishment is too harsh.
  • 66 percent of voters believe mandatory minimum sentences have put too many people behind bars for too long and should be reformed — especially for drug offenses.
  • 87 percent of voters believe people in prison should be able to earn credits for participating in job training and rehabilitative programming.
  • Nearly seven in 10 voters believe federal prisons should be able to move terminally ill inmates to halfway houses or home confinement.

Late last week, the Fraternal Order of Police — the largest law enforcement labor organization in the U.S. — became the first significant law enforcement group to announce their partnership with the White House on criminal justice reform legislation. That announcement was quickly followed by support letters from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major Cities Sheriffs of America.

The new polling numbers show the American people are firmly behind the effort, and Congress is now on the verge of passing the most significant, commonsense criminal justice reform in decades.

“At a time when our nation feels more divided than ever, one thing nearly all Americans agree on is the need to fix our broken criminal justice system,” said Holly Harris, executive director of the Justice Action Network. “Numbers don’t lie — three in four Americans stand against mandatory minimum sentences, and close to nine in 10 are in favor of job training and treatment programs for people in prison, ensuring they can successfully re-enter society and turn away from crime for good.

“We’re approaching a critical moment that marks a sea change in the approach to criminal justice in Congress,” said Jason Pyevice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks. “These poll results further emphasize the need to act at the federal level now.”

“The groundbreaking sentencing reforms in this bill will begin to turn our country away from the destructive mandatory minimum sentences that contributed to mass incarceration and unacceptable racial disparities,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Bipartisanship is a rare thing in this acidic political climate, and I’m proud to have held the line with progressive and conservative advocates who were committed to the broadest possible bill that could afford the most relief to as many American families as possible. I believe we have achieved these goals, and I look forward to the day this legislation is signed into law.”


Information provided by the Justice Action Network. For more information on the largest 501(c)4 organization in the country devoted to bipartisan cooperation in criminal justice reform, visit www.justiceactionnetwork.org