Most Americans Doubt Fairness of Criminal Justice System, Reveals Center for Prosecutor Integrity
WASHINGTON / June 11, 2013 – A public opinion survey reveals a substantial majority of persons harbor doubts about the effectiveness of the American criminal justice system. The nationwide survey reveals a crisis of confidence in our nation’s legal system, says the non-profit Center for Prosecutor Integrity.
The presumption of innocence is a bedrock principle of the American legal system. But two-thirds (66.8%) of the survey respondents believe the presumption of innocence is becoming lost in our nation’s legal system.
Equal treatment is promised by the 14h Amendment to the Constitution. But three-quarters (74.8%) believe our legal system often does not follow the rule of ‘equal treatment under the law.’
Prosecutors occupy a central role in the criminal justice system, but over two-fifths (42.8%) say prosecutor misconduct is widespread. Strong majorities of persons say most cases of prosecutor misconduct are kept hidden from the public (71.4%), and similar numbers say prosecutors who commit misconduct are almost never punished (73.5%).
A previous survey found one in 10 persons reported they had been falsely accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/survey/ False allegations undermine the rule of law, squander limited criminal justice resources, and weaken the credibility of victims, CPI believes.
“These stunning findings show the American criminal justice system has come off its moorings,” notes CPI spokesman Phillip Holman. “Lawmakers must grapple with the fact that over-criminalization and lack of prosecutor accountability have weakened the very legitimacy of our legal system in the eyes of many.”
The telephone interviews were conducted June 3-5, 2013. An average of 993 persons answered each of the survey questions. The sampling frame comes from voter registration records in 47 states; as such, the survey is not fully representative. More information about the survey findings and methods can be seen here: http://www.saveservices.org/prosecutors/survey/
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a project of S.A.V.E., is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions: www.prosecutorintegrity.org
Contact: Teri Stoddard