Research

Attitudes of U.S. Voters Toward Youth Crime and the Justice System

National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD)
Available at www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/zogby_feb07.pdf

A little over a decade ago, nearly every state began responding to rising juvenile crime rates and a media frenzy over the heinous acts of so-called teen “super-predators” by instituting harsher penalties for juvenile offenders and lowering the ages at which juveniles could be tried as adults.

In January 2007, in order to ascertain whether the public continues to support such policies, NCCD commissioned a national opinion poll of 1,043 “extremely varied” voters on their attitudes regarding youth crime and punishment.

The results show that more than nine in 10 Americans favor offering

rehabilitative services to juvenile offenders. Most also say they have little confidence in the juvenile justice system and oppose prosecuting youths as adults and incarcerating them in adult prisons.

Report authors Barry Krisberg and Susan Marchionna of NCCD write, “It is clear … that most of the American voting public thinks that giving young people the help they need to mature, learn, and overcome the mistakes of youth is key to enhanced public safety.”

The study presents its findings with numerous graphs. Selected examples are presented here.

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