What the Public Thinks

Some might assume that crime is a major concern to the public today and that the public supports tough-sounding, lengthy prison sentences for most offenders.  That is not necessarily true.  Public opinion on crime and punishment has changed dramatically over the last 30 years.  Crime is of less concern to an average citizen now than it was in the 1980s, and taxpayers and voters are more supportive than before of using innovative and cost-saving sanctions for offenders.  Below are some of the most recent or most important polls reflecting public attitudes on crime, punishment, and mandatory minimum sentences.