California Voters Support Releasing People from Jails and Prisons to Protect Communities from COVID-19

Kyle C. Barry & Lara Bazelon

Executive Summary

We asked California voters if they support releasing people from California jails and prisons in response to the coronavirus threat, and found broad bipartisan support:

  • 58 percent of Californians, including a majority of Republicans, support releasing anyone charged with an offense that does not involve a serious physical safety risk to the community.
  • 61 percent, including 55% of Republicans, support releasing elderly incarcerated people.
  • 56 percent support releasing people who have medical conditions that place them at higher risk, including those with asthma, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.
  • A majority (55%) support releasing individuals who have fewer than 12 months remaining on their sentences—a number 22 percentage points higher than those who oppose (33%).
  • And a majority of California voters (51%) support following practices adopted in other countries, and releasing incarcerated people as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus and to ensure compliance with public health guidance—with +15% somewhat or strongly supporting over those who oppose.
California Voters Support Releasing People from Jails and Prisons to Protect Communities from COVID-19
California Voters Support Releasing People from Jails and Prisons to Protect Communities from COVID-19