For Immediate Release: July 12, 2018
Arlington, VA, July 12, 2018 – The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) and Charles Koch Institute (CKI) released a study today that shows strong support among Americans for commonsense changes to the criminal justice system to make it fairer for people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime.
The poll finds that Americans want to see a more equitable justice system that focuses on public safety rather than on default incarceration. More than half of Americans do not want courts to detain people on low-level offenses; 52 percent believe prosecutors should have to make the case for detention, rather than people making the case for their pretrial liberty. Eighty-three percent agreed people who have been arrested for serious violent offenses should be detained when no other option would protect public safety or get them safely back to court.
“It is time that we ask ourselves whether the American pretrial justice system actually upholds the promise that individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” CKI Senior Policy Analyst Jordan Richardson said. “Our communities are safest when the justice system makes freedom the norm and detention, as Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist stated, the ‘carefully limited exception.’”
Three-quarters of respondents think the wealthy enjoy substantially better outcomes from the criminal justice system than do poor and working-class Americans. A large majority favors providing support, such as transportation assistance for people released before trial who may have difficulty getting to court.
“Americans realize the criminal justice system is a maze—once you get in it’s hard to get out—and they want commonsense solutions that will even the playing field for poor and working-class people and those who need help—such as domestic violence victims and people facing mental health or addiction challenges,” PJI CEO Cherise Fanno Burdeen said. “The bottom line is, the public believes the government must prove an individual belongs in jail before trial—which is the opposite of how the system works now due to the widespread use of money bail.”
The poll results also indicate that most Americans are unfamiliar with the pretrial process, from arrest to resolution of charges. This demonstrates a tremendous opportunity for education on this critical issue.
Support for Reform:
Americans Want Less Reliance on Incarceration:
Americans Favor Reforms that Emphasize Community-Based Support Programs:
Poll Results Show Opportunity for Education:
ABOUT THE CHARLES KOCH INSTITUTE
For more than five decades, Charles Koch’s philanthropy has inspired bold new ideas to improve American lives. Inspired by a recognition that free people are capable of extraordinary things, the Charles Koch Institute supports education and dialogue to advance these principles and challenge convention. We work to remove barriers to opportunity for all Americans, helping individuals transform their lives. To learn more visit charleskochinstitute.org.
ABOUT THE PRETRIAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE
The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) is a national organization working to advance safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice that honors and protects all people. PJI monitors the state of, and advocates for, pretrial justice in America—by convening, educating, and supporting system stakeholders to effect change; by demonstrating that change is possible by working directly with jurisdictions on implementation; and by engaging in public dialogue about the need for improvements and commonsense solutions. For more information about PJI, visit pretrial.org.
On behalf of the Pretrial Justice Institute, Lake Research Partners designed and administered a nationwide survey, conducted by phone using professional interviewers, of 1,400 registered voters, including oversamples of 200 African-American and 200 Latinx registered voters (MoE +/- 3.1%), May 2-17, 2018.