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New poll suggests Mass. voters support criminal justice reform

SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF

Massachusetts voters support aggressive reforms to the state criminal justice system, according to a poll conducted by MassINC, a bipartisan policy think tank.

The poll found that the plurality of respondents, 46 percent, believe judges should have more discretion in sentencing convicted offenders, rather than requiring them to sentence some offenders to a minimum period of time.

Criminal justice is a hot topic this year on Beacon Hill, where lawmakers have filed a number of bills to reform the system. Earlier this year lawmakers saw the results of a study the state commissioned on how to reform the system.

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More than half of people polled said they believe incarceration does more harm than good, according to the results, which are set to be discussed Monday at a MassINC forum.

Speakers are to include Congresswoman Katherine Clark and Chief Justice Ralph Gants, according to a MassINC press release.

“This poll shows voters would support the state Legislature taking a broad, comprehensive approach to reform,” said Ben Forman, research director at MassINC, in a press release.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they believe there are too many people in prison, and 23 percent said they think the number is appropriate.

Most respondents — 66 percent — said they think prevention or rehabilitation programs should be a top priority in dealing with crime, according to the results.

Most respondents — 66 percent — also said they believe drugs should be treated as a health problem rather than a crime.

The poll surveyed 754 registered voters in Massachusetts between April 27 and May 1, 2017.


Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.