It may seem America’s political parties are more sharply divided on the justice system than nearly any other issue. Yet data shows we’ve already found common ground.
It is perhaps universally accepted – one may even say expected – for the American people to disagree. We are a country that came together swiftly. Public opinion may break apart just as fast.
Yet a political dynamic that urges citizens to view all issues through the lens of red or blue obscures the fact that Americans actually agree on many important issues. Now, an ongoing research study is attempting to bridge this chasm.
Pioneered by Voice of the People, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the majority opinion to light, the study surveys a diverse subset of American voters to inspect similarities in thought and opinion between the right and the left. Through in-depth surveys in which respondents receive briefings on key policy proposals and evaluate pro and con arguments, the study has to date identified 185 common ground positions on a wide range of policy issues.
And, despite how polarized Republicans and Democrats may seem around justice system issues, the following policy proposals show high levels of bipartisan support.
Improved Treatment of Prisoners
A national sample of 2,487 registered voters were asked to respond to several proposals to reform the treatment of people in prison. The data indicates that 60% or more Democrats and Republicans agree:
- To limit rates that prisons and jails can charge inmates for phone calls
- Restrict the use of solitary confinement
A national sample of 3,226 registered voters were asked to respond to several proposals on police reform.. The data indicates that 60% or more Democrats and Republicans agree:
- It should be made a duty for officers to intervene in cases where another officer is using excessive force
- To recommend that all officers wear body cameras and keep them on when dealing with a suspect or responding to a call
- To create a national registry of police misconduct available to the public and all police departments
Study results to date show promising signs that American’s right and left can find agreement on polarized topics if conversation and thoughtful proposals are fostered. And data collected shows bipartisan support for even more areas of justice policy. Stay tuned for a look at common ground positions that go beyond policing and prison, to criminal records and sentencing reform.
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