May 26, 2021
A new survey from New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) shows that an overwhelming majority of voters agree that New York’s parole system is in need of change. In May 2021, NYUJ, in coordination with The Parkside Group, conducted a statewide poll to survey the attitudes of New York State voters on parole reform.
The results were astounding; the survey of 1,600 interviews with New York voters demonstrated an absolute and undeniable appetite for parole reform, with support transcending age, race, political affiliation, and geography. The following are key takeaways from the poll.
- There is an absolute appetite for parole reform, as New Yorkers of all stripes believe the current system isn’t working. By more than 5 to 1 (49% – 9%), a majority of voters across various demographics believe that New York State’s parole system “needs to change.”
- Individual elements of parole reform are exceedingly popular with New York State voters. By almost a 3 to 1 margin (60% – 21%), voters believe that people on parole shouldn’t be thrown back in jail for “technical violations” like missing a meeting with a parole officer, missing a curfew, or other non-criminal, minor violations of their parole.
- New Yorkers overwhelmingly believe that people who consistently obey the rules of their parole should be able to earn a shorter parole period. The wide support (75% to 12%) for a less punitive and fairer parole system showed no partisan, racial, or geographic boundaries.
- Almost all New Yorkers (91%) believe that people on parole should have access to a lawyer before they are put back in prison. Across every demographic, a vast majority of respondents expressed support for providing legal representation to people who have allegedly violated their parole conditions, with only 3% of respondents in opposition.
- The majority of New Yorkers believe that people over the age of 55 who have served at least 15 years in prison, and who do not pose a risk to public safety, should be eligible for parole. 58% of total respondents supported the prospective policy, while 12% expressed opposition (30% responded saying that they either did not know or did not have an opinion).