Voters Think State Spends Too Much on Jail, Not Enough on Rehabilitation
WASHINGTON, DC – Families Against Mandatory Minimum (FAMM) President Julie Stewart today released the results of a new poll of likely Pennsylvania voters, which revealed strong opposition to mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent offenses. (See below for a presentation of the results, or click here for a PDF version.)
The poll is the first survey of voters since the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s June ruling which invalidated many of the state’s drug- and gun-related mandatory minimum sentencing laws. FAMM commissioned the poll, which was conducted November 18-24 by Harper Polling, a nationally recognized polling firm based in Harrisburg, PA.
“States across the country are throwing out their outdated, ineffective, and expensive mandatory minimum sentencing laws,” said Ms. Stewart. “This poll demonstrates that Pennsylvania voters – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – want their representatives to do the same.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did everyone a favor by killing so many mandatory minimum sentences in June. State lawmakers would be unwise to try to resurrect them,” said Stewart.
The poll found that:
- A majority of likely voters favor repealing mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses (54% favor, 34% oppose). A 41% plurality strongly favors repealing mandatory minimums in this context. Support for repeal can be found among Democrats (59% favor, 29% oppose), Independents (56%/35%), self-identified moderates (64%/27%), Republicans (48%/39%) and self-described conservatives (44%/42%).
- More than two-thirds of likely voters in Pennsylvania agree that “Pennsylvania spends too much money locking up nonviolent drug offenders and should shift some funding to other priorities, like drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs that can stop addicts from becoming repeat offenders” (67% agree, 26% disagree). This view was shared by voters of all parties (Republicans: 60% agree, 30% disagree; Democrats: 73%/22%, Independents: 66%/32%) and from across the ideological spectrum (conservative: 60%/32%, moderate: 73%/20%, liberal: 76%/22%).
- A narrow plurality of likely voters would be less likely “to support candidates for state office who voted for new mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders” (38%, 34% more likely), demonstrating that this issue does not transfer strongly to the ballot box in the minds of voters. However, almost a third of likely voters would be much less likely to vote for such a candidate (31%) compared to just 16% who would be much more likely.
Poll was conducted by Harper Polling. Click here to see crosstab tables and results.
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