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New Polling on Public Views on Juvenile Justice Issues

| November 1, 2011

The Campaign for Youth Justice commissioned a poll to gauge public opinion on various juvenile justice issues. The survey of 1,000 adults nationwide first asked opinions about the juvenile justice system, generally:

  • 78% thought that the juvenile justice system should focus on prevention and rehabilitation before incarceration and punishment, including 72% of conservatives.
  • A vast majority—76%—felt that juveniles have the potential to change for the better.
  • Slightly fewer respondents believed that rehabilitation programs could save tax dollars in the future—only 64% believed this is the case, while27% believed those programs only cost tax dollars in the long run.

The pollsters then attempted to gauge Americans’ beliefs on the proper venue for juvenile offenders:

  • 57% believed that incarcerating juveniles in adult prisons rather than juvenile facilities increased recidivism risks, including 64% of self-identified liberals and 51% of conservatives.
  • Further, 82% felt judges, rather than prosecutors, should make the decisions about where to try juvenile offenders.

Finally, when it comes to reform measures, 77% favored a requirement that juveniles be placed in facilities close to home.

The full poll results are here. Public support for smart reform principles can be influential for legislators considering these reforms. Indeed, for a legislator to be held truly accountable, the public’s opinions must be factored into any reform plans.


RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.