Poll: Majority thinks justice system too lenient on police who cause injury or death

A majority of Americans in a new poll say that police officers who cause injury or harm are treated too leniently by the criminal justice system.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey published Wednesday found that 65 percent of adults believe officers who cause injury or death are treated too leniently, up from 41 percent in 2015.

That includes a majority of white respondents, 62 percent, as well as black respondents, 84 percent. 

The survey also found that 48 percent of U.S. adults say that police violence against the public is extremely or very serious, while another 31 percent said it was a moderately serious problem. Just 21 percent dismissed the issue as not serious or not very serious.

Those figures have sharply risen in the past five years, with just 32 percent calling police violence a very serious issue in the same poll taken in 2015. The growth occurred among both black and white Americans, increasing 10 percent among black adults and 20 percent among white adults.

Most Americans agree that the issue is racial in nature as well. Sixty-one percent of all U.S. adults say police are more likely to use force against a black American than someone of another race. That number sits at 92 percent among black respondents, and at 54 percent among white respondents.

“The data show noteworthy changes of a magnitude we don’t see very often, especially on long-standing cultural or social issues,” NORC deputy director Jennifer Benz said, according to the AP.

“While this poll was certainly conducted at a moment of tremendous attention on racism in our society, we have empirical signals from other data to suggest that these changes are not purely a reaction to the current events,” Benz added.

The poll’s publication comes as dozens of cities across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have seen demonstrations against police brutality and racism in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody. Video of his arrest showed a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

AP-NORC’s poll was conducted between June 11-15 among 1,301 U.S. adults, with an overall margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Tags Black Lives Matter George Floyd protests police brutality

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