Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: Perceptions of Mass Incarceration and Sentencing Reform

The scale of the incarceration system in the United Sates is unmatched by any other country globally or historically. The consequences—which have fallen disproportionately on those living in impoverished black and Latino communities—have been devastating (Western 2006; Clear 2007). The system is the product of punitive policies enacted by politicians from both major parties seeking to earn a politically valuable “tough on crime” reputation (e.g. Beckett and Sasson 2004; Simon 2006). Recently, however, the political landscape appears to have shifted, and criminal justice reform now has advocates in both parties and seeming widespread support. The nature and meaning of this support, however, has not been fully explored. We propose three possible sets of questions for the 2016 American National Election Studies Pilot Survey designed to shed light on the sources of support for change.

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