Voters Support Reforming Systems of Incarceration, Probation, and Parole in the United States

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Executive Summary

American voters believe our legal system should prioritize helping and supporting people over incarcerating them—and probation and parole programs must be reformed to serve that function, new polling shows.  

Voters want fewer people in jails and prisons, and fewer people subject to surveillance and control by law enforcement. Instead, they want probation and parole, to the extent they are used at all, to serve as true alternatives to incarceration, not additional means of law enforcement control that makes incarceration more likely. That means providing services—such as housing assistance, job training, and substance use counseling—that empower people to avoid or leave the criminal legal system, and instead help them to connect with their communities. 

In sum, polling shows that voters support reforms to address the root causes of criminal behavior, and see our heavy reliance on incarceration, surveillance, and punishment as only making things worse.