Most Say Catching More Criminals Matters More Than Harsh Penalties

When thinking about the best ways to protect society, 54% believe it is more important for law enforcement to catch a much larger share of criminals rather than imposing very harsh penalties on the small percentage of criminals who are caught. A national survey found that 24% disagree and take the opposite view. Twenty-two percent (22%) are not sure.

Among voters under 35, half (48%) say catching more criminals is the top priority while 33% think harsher penalties will do more to protect society. Senior citizens place a higher priority on catching more criminals. By a 60% to 21% margin, they believe that’s the best approach.

Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats think catch more criminals is most important. So do 52% of Independents and 49% of Republicans (see crosstab results).

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of voters nationwide are in favor of allowing the death penalty as punishment for very severe crimes. However, that support is tempered by the reality of implementation. 50% believe there are a number of violent criminals who deserve the death penalty, but don’t trust the government enough to trust the government enough to determine whether a convicted criminal should be put to death.

Data released earlier showed by 58% favored the criminal justice reform passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week.

Every day, presents new public opinion data relating to topics in the news and other items of interest. We also provide daily updates on the president’s job approval and the generic congressional ballot. It’s all part of our mission to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us).

The national survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted December 23-24, 2018 by and HarrisX, a polling company specializing in online surveys (see Methodology and the demographic profile of our sample). It has a 3.1 percentage point Margin of Error with a 95% level of confidence.

Neither Scott Rasmussen nor has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).

Posted in Poll Results

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