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Framing and Facts: Necessary Synergies in Communicating about Public Safety and Criminal Justice

The data on racial disparities in the justice system is clear to advocates - but misinterpreted by the public. Values messages can help us be heard and understood.
Adam F. Simon, Frank D. Gilliam Jr
September 11, 2013

This report presents the results of an experimental survey that assesses the effect of facts and values on people’s attitudes towards criminal justice reform. Among four values tested, Pragmatism was most effective in elevating support for reform. Presenting unframed facts about the criminal justice system — that is, facts presented without an accompanying value — produced minimal effects. However, when facts about racial disparities in the criminal justice system were combined with the value of Pragmatism, support increased for a wide range of reform measures.