Few Americans believe there has been significant progress over the last 50 years in achieving equal treatment for Black people in dealings with police and the criminal justice system. Most Americans across racial and ethnic groups say more progress is necessary, finds a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Overall, only about a quarter of Americans say there has been a great deal or a lot of progress in achieving racial equality in policing and criminal justice. Roughly another third say there’s been “some” progress. An overwhelming majority of adults say more progress is needed for racial equality, including about half who say “a lot” more.
Among those who think more progress is needed on achieving fair treatment for Black Americans by police, thirty one percent are optimistic about that happening in the next few years, while thirty eight percent are pessimistic. Roughly another third say they hold neither opinion. Only twenty percent of Black Americans who think more needs to be done are optimistic; forty nine percent are pessimistic. The AP-NORC poll results reflect what some criminal justice advocates have warned elected leaders about for more than a year: that unless something definitive is done soon to begin transforming police and the criminal justice system, it could become more difficult to mobilize dissatisfied Black voters in the midterm elections.