Latino Public Opinion & Perception

Crime Victims Disapprove of California Investing More Money in Jails and Prisons

A 2013 study surveyed Californians who self-reported being a victim of crime in the past five years. These victims overwhelmingly disapproved of the state’s investing more money in jails and prison and supported funding of preventive measures such as education and health services (including mental health and substance abuse). Latino crime victims exhibited a skeptical view of the impact of prison on criminals. According to Californians for Safety and Justice, 39 percent thought that prison actually makes better criminals, while 36 percent believed it has no impact, and only 19 percent believed that prison has some rehabilitation value or makes offenders better citizens (David Binder Research, 2013a).

Fig 6-1

Source: David Binder Research/Californians for Safety and Justice, 2013a

Opinions about state investment priorities clearly reflect this doubt. In this sample:

  • 83 percent of Latinos thought California should invest more money in education as opposed to prison, compared with the 79 percent average of all crime victims (76 percent of whites, 68 percent of Asians, and 88 percent of blacks).
  • Asked whether California should invest more in health services such as mental health and drug and alcohol treatment or in jails and prisons, 78 percent of Latinos chose health services (74 percent average of all crime victims, 71 percent of whites, 63 percent of Asians, 94 percent of blacks).
  • Asked whether California should spend more on prisons and jails or spend more on preventing crimes, 76 percent of Latinos (more than any other ethnic group) wanted the state to spend more on prevention (see figure 1) (David Binder Research, 2013a).

By a ratio of two to one (53 percent for rehab, 25 percent for prison), Latinos in this sample thought that California should focus more on providing supervised probation and rehabilitation programs than on sending people to jail or prison. Interestingly, Latino crime victims were nearly split over whether California sends too many people to prison or not; 37 percent thought too many, and 33 percent thought too few (David Binder Research, 2013a). These numbers, in line with the average of all crime victims, represent yet another paradox in Latino public opinion.

To see the entire study, visit California Crime Victims Report.

Works Cited

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