Mike Nichols, The Badger Institute

Mike Nichols, president, The Badger Institute.

(The Center Square) – A new poll concludes most voters in Wisconsin want to see more fairness from the criminal justice system, as opposed to just crime and punishment.

The Badger Institute on Wednesday released the results of its poll conducted by Robert Blizzard and Gene Ulm of Public Opinion Strategies.

The Institute said the poll shows an overwhelming majority of voters in the state want to focus on preparing inmates for life after prison, and making sure Wisconsin spends its prison budget wisely.

Badger Institute President Mike Nichols said the poll found politics do not play a big role in criminal justice reform.

“Three-quarters of Wisconsin Republicans say what really matters is that the criminal justice system does a better job of making sure a person who gets out of prison is less likely to commit another crime. Over 80% of Republicans say the main goal of the criminal justice system should be rehabilitating people to become productive, law-abiding citizens,” Nichols said.

The poll found:

  • 72% of Wisconsin voters support moving the decision of expungement eligibility to the completion of the sentence rather than at the time of sentencing.
  • 70% of voters showed overwhelming agreement that the criminal justice system should ensure people are less likely to commit another crime.
  • 86% of voters said the criminal justice system should help people become productive, law-abiding citizens.

“It’s time to listen. Wisconsinites know expungement reform will help people find jobs and stability and that’s good for everyone: employers, families, taxpayers and broader communities,” Nichols said.

The poll also asked about prison spending in the state. Nichols said a “wide margin of voters” think Wisconsin should get away from its one size fits all approach. The Badger Institute has pushed for criminal justice reform for years.

The Badger Institute’s poll surveyed 500 registered voters in the state. Two hundred fifty respondents were contacted via landline and 250 via cell phone. The survey was conducted March 30-April 1, 2021 and has a margin of error of +/-4.38%.