The Evolving Landscape of Crime and Incarceration

Doubts about the current system of mass incarceration emerge in a nationally representative survey, even in more politically conservative, rural parts of the country. Indeed, in an era of broad speculation about a growing urban-rural divide, there is general consensus between rural America, small cities and major metropolitan areas that the criminal justice system is not working and communities should focus on priorities other than spending millions on prisons and jails.

A 40 percent plurality believe incarceration rates in their communities are too high, and a 66 percent majority would describe themselves as “concerned” if they learned incarceration rates in their community were higher than in similar communities. In rural communities, a 60 percent majority would be concerned.