A new national poll of young Americans found nearly half don’t have confidence that the U.S. justice system is fair -- and don’t believe that social protests will make much of a difference.
The survey of 18 to 29 year olds -- conducted before recent unrest in Baltimore -- found even deeper distrust among African-Americans, according to pollsters with Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
When young Americans were asked how confident they were in the U.S. judicial system’s ability to “fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity," 49 percent of those polled said they had “not much” confidence and an equal proportion said they had “some” or “a lot” of confidence.
Young whites were more confident in the justice system's fairness -- 55 percent had some or a lot of confidence -- compared with young Hispanics -- 44 percent had some confidence and African-Americans, the majority of whom -- 66 percent -- had little confidence.
There were also differences among political parties, Republicans were more confident in the system’s fairness - 66 percent - compared with 46 percent for Democrats.
When asked if they supported national protests of police treatment of African-Americans centered around the #BlackLivesMatter slogan, the young Americans were evenly split at 49 percent. But pollsters said they found “pretty striking differences” among the races: less support was seen for the protests by young whites, than among young Hispanics and African-Americans, 81 percent of whom backed the protests. A majority - 59 percent - said they believe the #BlackLivesMatter protests will either be “not very” or “not at all” effective in making meaningful change.
Young Americans were however, strongly in support of body cameras for police with 80 percent saying they believed it would be effective to require police officers to wear body cameras while on patrol.
On other matters, a solid majority supported sending ground troops to defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants. Almost six-in-ten - 57 percent - of young adults said they either somewhat or strongly backed sending ground troops to participate in a military campaign against the Islamic State.
The poll also found that over the past year, support has grown by 10 percentage points for the U.S. to “take the lead in solving international crises and conflicts.” The poll also found increased support for the statement: “it is sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries, rather than waiting until we are attacked to respond.”
The poll of 3,034 young Americans was conducted March 18 – April 1 in English and Spanish and carries a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.