The public’s feelings on criminal justice reform have been steadily evolving over the years. In general, most people support the idea of reforming the criminal justice system to make it more equitable and just. This includes addressing issues such as racial disparities in sentencing, overcriminalization and mass incarceration, bail reform, and police reform.
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A majority of Americans agree that there is a need for reform within the criminal justice system; according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2016, 57% of adults believed that “the nation’s criminal justice system needs major changes” while only 19% said that it was functioning “fairly well as is.” In addition, an overwhelming 81% of voters supported reducing mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders to help reduce prison overcrowding in 2014.
When it comes to police reform specifically, public opinion has become increasingly favorable in recent months due to growing awareness about systemic racism and unequal treatment by law enforcement officers toward people of color. According to an ABC News/Ipsos survey from June 2020, 73% of adults believe that race plays at least some role in interactions between black Americans and police officers compared with 35% who held this view 5 years ago. Additionally, 61% are now also supportive or strongly supportive of creating local civilian review boards with subpoena power over local police departments as a way to increase accountability among law enforcement officials – up from 48%.
Overall sentiment towards these reforms remains positive based on these polls but opinions vary widely depending on political affiliation (Democrats tend to be more supportive across all areas). As with any issue involving government intervention into individual rights or liberties there will continue to be debates regarding what precisely constitutes appropriate policy measures moving forward but it seems clear that most Americans want significant improvements made within the current structure when it comes to issues surrounding criminal justice reform – whether that’s reducing prison sentences for non-violent offenders or increasing oversight for law enforcement agencies – which could potentially impact jobs related directly or indirectly with this sector in the future.