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Poll: Virginians strongly support marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform

Poll: Virginians strongly support marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform

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Poll results released Thursday by Virginia Commonwealth University found public support for juvenile justice reform, legalized recreational marijuana use and the death penalty.

Conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the university’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, the results also show the public supports studying the effectiveness of the state’s sex offender registry, reinstating parole for nonviolent offenders and juveniles convicted as adults.

Of the sample of 931 adult Virginians interviewed between Jan. 4 and 12, 84 percent supported juvenile justice reforms that would reduce the use of large, adult-styled correctional facilities in favor of smaller, community-based centers.

Andrew Block, director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, said he found the poll results heartening. “Smaller, treatment-oriented facilities and community-based alternatives to state custody are good for public safety, good for taxpayers, and good for our children, families and communities,” he said.

Almost 8 out of 10 respondents favored reducing the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a $100 fine instead of a misdemeanor conviction, and 62 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that recreational use of marijuana should be legalized.

The poll found the death penalty for capital murderers is supported by 64 percent.

Three out of 4 supported reinstating parole for nonviolent offenders while 64 percent supported denying firearm purchases to people with outstanding restraining orders.

The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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