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TO: Reform Alliance PA

FROM: Brock McCleary, President

Date: January 15, 2020
RE: Key Poll Findings—Pennsylvania Statewide Survey

Harper Polling conducted a survey of 605 likely voters in Pennsylvania via landline and mobile telephone
interviews conducted by professional call agents. The survey was completed January 11 – 13 and has a
margin of error of +/-4.0%. The following memo covers key findings from the survey.

1. Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly favor the bipartisan probation reform bill, and support is
consistent across partisan and geographic lines.

• When read the following description, 67% of all voters in Pennsylvania support the reforms. This
support holds for strong majorities of Republicans (60%), Democrats (73%), and Independents
(64%). Furthermore, the bill’s popularity is stable across gender and throughout all five regions of
Q: A bipartisan bill is being considered in the state legislature that would reform Pennsylvania’s probation system. The bill
would prevent incarceration for minor technical violations, reduce the amount of time people spend under supervision
when they complete courses and exhibit good behavior, and limit the amount of additional time served for probation
violations. Do you favor or oppose this bill?

73 % Favor % Oppose
67 67 67 67 72
64 66 64 63

18 23 18 21 23 21
12 15 16 17 15

2. Rehabilitation and prevention, not monitoring and punishment, should be the main goals of probation
in the opinion of Pennsylvania voters.

• By a nearly 3-to-1 margin (66% rehabilitate, 23% monitor), voters agree that the main goal of
probation should be “to rehabilitate the individual and prevent further criminal offenses”, rather
than “to monitor and punish the individual and send them to prison if they commit an offense.”

• This view is held even more

strongly among women (69%
rehabilitate) and voters under the
age of thirty-five (77%).

121 State Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

3. Key facts about the state’s probation system are effective in persuading even more voters to support
probation reform.

• Greater than 6-in-10 Pennsylvanians agree with each of these statements about the state’s
probation system. The overwhelming case load facing Pennsylvania’s probation officers stands
out as the most persuasive information.

• After hearing the information, support for bipartisan probation reform rises from 67% to 76%, with a
majority now strongly favoring the proposal.

Q. Now I am going to read you several statements about the probation system in
Pennsylvania. Please tell me how persuasive you find each statement as a reason to support
the probation reform bill.
% Persuasive
The average probation officer in PA handles 108 cases at a
time, more than twice the recommended caseload of 50. This
bill will help lower caseloads, allowing probation officers to do
their jobs in a more efficient and effective manner.

Of all 50 states, PA has the second highest percentage of

citizens on probation and parole and the highest incarceration
rate of the entire western world. This bill would help lower our
state’s incarceration rate.

According to a recent report, PA spends over two hundred

million dollars annually on community supervision. This includes
one hundred million dollars annually to incarcerate people for
minor technical violations of probation and parole.

In PA, someone on probation could be sent to prison if they

miss a call with a PO because they had to work late, or if they
get a speeding ticket. This results in a revolving door of people
being continuously reincarcerated for minor infractions.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

4. Nearly 3-in-10 Pennsylvania voters have a household or immediate family member who has been
incarcerated or placed on probation.

• Probation reform is personal for
millions of Pennsylvania voters, as 28% say they have
an immediate family or household member who has
been placed on probation or incarcerated.

• Probation reform is not a regional

issue. Geographically, rates of reported probation
and incarceration reach their extremes in the rural
Northern Tier (37%) and the metropolitan Southeast

METHODOLOGY: The sample size for the survey is 605 likely voters in Pennsylvania and the margin of error is +/-4.0% at a 95%
confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 4.0
percentage points 19 times out of 20. Responses were gathered via telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional

call center. Demographics were adjusted to reflect the population from which the sample was drawn. The survey was conducted
January 11-13, 2020 by Harper Polling. The total percentages of responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.

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