The first-ever national survey of victims’ views on criminal justice found that victims of violent crime widely support reducing incarceration to invest in prevention and rehabilitation.
The survey, which interviewed 800 crime survivors across the country in April, was released this month by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a criminal justice reform organization. It found that 61 percent of crime victims support shorter prison sentences and more spending on prevention and rehabilitation.
By a margin of 3 to 1, victims prefer alternatives to incarceration, such as mental health treatment, drug treatment, community supervision, and community service.
As the Washington Post reports, these results mirror the findings of other recent polls that have found overwhelming public support for criminal justice reforms like eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes.
The results may come as a unwelcome surprise to policymakers who invoke crime victims when opposing criminal justice reform. Across political affiliations, crime victims expressed strong preferences for investing more in education than incarceration. The survey results show that victims believe that imprisonment increases the likelihood of committing crimes and it is not an effective solution for our social problems.
In fact, 77 percent of survivors of the most serious violent crimes said that prosecutors should focus on solving neighborhood problems and stopping repeat crimes through rehabilitation, even if it means fewer convictions.