National Safety Gaps Survey
Government spending doesn’t match. We’re left with a gap in health and safety.
A national report shows government spending being misplaced, while the views of American voters provide a roadmap for where public safety investments should be redirected.Download the Report →
of American voters agree:
Jails and prisons are not their priority to protect from budget cuts, especially during an economic downturn.
Voters choose Shared Safety solutions over jails and prisons.
When American voters choose their top two public safety investments to prioritize, over 4 out of 5 select solutions of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, over jails and prisons: mental health, job training, violence prevention, and victim services. Less than one in five choose jails and prisons. See what Americans rank as their public safety priorities
U.S. spending on the criminal justice system is now as high as $300 billion, up from $40 billion in 1982.
Yet, we continue to shortchange health and safety solutions for communities.
Crime victims don’t get help. Mental health and addiction treatment are not available. People are blocked from economic opportunities for reentry.
U.S. Criminal Justice System Spending
crime survivors report receiving help to recover
When crime survivors did receive help, it was generally not from the criminal justice system.
7 out of 10 of violent crime victims have been victimized more than once
When crime survivors did receive help, it was generally not from the criminal justice system.?
Americans reporting a mental health issue said they received treatment
Americans with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment.
Among those who did not receive treatment:
Nearly half said it was hard to access, treatment options were too far away or had waiting lists
said they could not afford it or insurance did not cover it
Americans are living with a past conviction or record that carries legal restrictions, blocking them from jobs and housing.
Nearly 8 in 10 voters support increasing community-based violence prevention workers through federal funding to help prevent young people from getting involved in crime.
Nearly 2 in 3 voters support expanding and hiring hospital-based violence prevention workers with federal funding to help prevent retaliation for gun violence.
More than 8 in 10 voters support expanding victims’ services with federal funding to help more victims of violence get access to programs that help them with financial recovery and recovery from trauma.
More than 8 in 10 voters support expanding emotional support and recovery services for children who have been exposed to violence through federal funding.
Nearly 8 in 10 voters support expanding the 911 system so that calls for mental health and substance abuse issues are directed to trained mental health professionals to respond instead of police.
Nearly 6 in 10 voters support shifting funds from police to community organizations that use relevant experts to address issues, such as domestic violence, de-escalation, mental health, and violence interruption programs.
Nearly 8 in 10 voters support expanding mental health crisis responses so that emergency calls about psychiatric crises are handled by mental health experts.
Nearly 6 in 10 voters support lifting bans on eligibility for emergency aid, housing assistance and food stamps for people with past convictions.
voters support alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenses.
7 in 10 voters across political party, age and gender support this policy.
voters support alternatives to incarceration for someone who has participated in rehabilitation programs or maintained good behavior in prison and has been assessed as a low risk to public safety. Majority support for this policy holds across political party, age and gender.
voters support the release of some people from jails and prisons who are already set to be released in the near future, or who are elderly or sick. More than 6 out of 10 voters across party, age and gender support this policy.
Federal and state policymakers should require Shared Safety Impact Statements to assess public safety-related budget and legislative proposals for their safety impact, similar to a fiscal impact statement on cost. Annual reporting on safety gaps related to the capacity of violence prevention, trauma recovery, addiction, mental health treatment and reentry resources to meet community needs should also be required to evaluate where investments must be targeted. Policymakers should also require annual reporting on safety gaps that identifies who is experiencing crime and violence and the impacts, and assesses the capacity of violence prevention, trauma recovery, addiction and mental health treatment, and reentry resources to meet community needs.
Require Joint Responsibility & Community Partnerships to ensure more collaboration and shared responsibility. Data sharing and public safety strategies co-designed with communities can attain safety for all.
Reallocate Resources to New Safety Priorities that focus on prevention, treatment and recovery, over spending on incarceration. Smarter approaches, such as emergency mental health crisis response, community-based and hospital-based violence prevention, trauma recovery for victims and children exposed to violence, and removing bans on aid eligibility for people with past convictions, will advance safety. Policymakers should build incentives into funding streams, rewarding these approaches that improve safety and reduce unnecessary spending on incarceration.
This groundbreaking report should serve as a guide towards safety solutions that American voters support, helping to align government spending with what can keep us safe.
Shared Safety efforts at the federal, state and local levels are advancing with success.