Many Massachusetts Residents Ready For Reform of the Criminal Justice System

A new poll on criminal justice issues from the group MassINC shows a shift in opinion over the past few decades. A majority of Massachusetts residents support sending fewer people to prison. 85 percent of those polled support a package of reforms similar to those enacted in other states. Steve Koczela with MassINC says a significant margin of people want to move away from tough-on-crime policies currently on the books.

“They want a system that works,” Koczela says.

He says Massachusetts residents want “a system that reduces recidivism, reduces crime. And they think that focusing on prevention and rehabilitation sending fewer people to prison, providing treatment for drug users, alternatives for mentally ill prisoners and so forth, they think those things will help.”

64 percent of those polled say the state should treat a drug arrest as a health problem, as compared to 24 percent who say it should be looked at as a crime. The MassINC poll found that most see the current prison system as a contributor to crime rather than a deterrent. The survey of about 1200 Massachusetts residents was conducted earlier this year.