2020 Criminal Legal System Public Poll

July 21, 2020

In April 2020, the ACLU of Hawai‘i surveyed Hawai‘i residents to learn more about their opinion and understanding of the criminal legal system. The aim of the survey is to paint a clearer picture of the public’s understanding of Hawaii’s current criminal legal system and their opinion as to whether it is making our communities safer. The ultimate goal is to help inform the work of lawmakers, candidates and advocates.

As we move forward in our Campaign for Smart Justice Hawai‘i — which aims to address racial disparities in the criminal legal system and mass incarceration in the islands — we decided surveying the residents of Hawai‘i was a necessary step in understanding how people feel about Hawaii’s current criminal legal system and if it is actually making our communities safer. We hope releasing the results of this survey provides some clarity to current lawmakers and candidates who wish to serve the people of Hawai‘i.

Here are some highlights of the survey:

  • 76% of people polled agree there is value in greater transparency from the Prosecutor’s Office.

  • 67% of people are more likely to vote for a prosecuting attorney candidate who commits to actively working to reduce unequal treatment by race in the criminal justice system.

  • 71% agree that it would help communities by rehabilitating offenders and saving taxpayer dollars that can be reinvested into preventing crime.

  • The results show a clear preference by the general public in support of drug treatment and rehabilitation as opposed to tougher penalties and longer prison sentences. 

View the entire poll below.