Survey Executive Summary

TO:                 Interested Parties

 

FROM:           Dave Metz and Lucia Del Puppo

                        Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates

 

RE:                  Attitudes toward Community Reinvestment Policies in Contra Costa County

 

 

A recent survey of voters in Contra Costa County conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates demonstrates that voters strongly support an array of community reinvestment policies which emphasize access to health care services; increased access to early education and after-school programs; and employment opportunities for the most vulnerable, including communities of color, foster youth, low-income families, and the formerly incarcerated.[1] Voters believe a preventative approach to crime is more likely to produce safety than one that emphasizes law enforcement; and they are especially supportive of investing in youth programs, mental health care, and employment opportunities for vulnerable populations.​ The support for reinvestment policies cuts across many major demographic groups including, all counties, gender, age, party, income-level, and ethnicity.

 

This memo contains a summary of key findings specific to Contra Costa County:

 

  • Seven in ten voters support shifting investment from the local sheriff’s department to community reinvestment policies. When asked whether they would support or oppose increasing spending on mental health, access to early education and after-school programs, and employment opportunities for the most vulnerable by reducing funding on law enforcement, jails, and the sheriff’s department, 70 percent of Contra Costa County voters said they would back such a shift. Forty-two percent of Contra Costa County voters said they would “strongly support” it (Figure 1 on the next page).

Support for Shifting Funding to Community Reinvestment

 

  • Three-quarters of Contra Costa County voters believe that investment in their community offers a more effective crime prevention strategy than investment in law enforcement. A shown in Figure 2, when forced to choose, 75 percent of Contra Costa County voters agreed that investing in schools, healthcare, housing and economic opportunity would be the best way to make their community safer.

 

Best Way to Improve Community Safety

  • Voters expressed distinct strong preferences for specific community investments as a way of improving safety in their communities. When asked how Contra Costa County could spend money to help make their communities safer, voters expressed support for increasing programs for youth, expanding access to mental health care, increasing access to substance use treatment in communities, and job training for formerly incarcerated people and communities of color. Voters most strongly supported increasing support for young people such as sports leagues, Boys & Girls Clubs and other programs that try to help young people stay in school and out of trouble (95% support, Figure 3 on the next page) and most strongly opposed building more jails (72% opposed).

 

Action to Improve Safety

Strong Support

Total Support

Increasing support for young people such as sports leagues, Boys & Girls Clubs and other programs that try to help young people stay in school and out of trouble

75%

95%

Expanding access to mental health care

69%

94%

Offering more job training programs for communities of color

69%

90%

Expanding access to quality pre-school programs

68%

91%

Offering more job training programs for the formerly incarcerated

66%

93%

Increasing access to substance abuse treatment programs in communities

63%

91%

Providing more opportunities for healthy community recreation

60%

91%

Cleaning up trash, improving street lighting, and other measures to improve the appearance of local neighborhoods

60%

88%

Increasing the number of police on the streets

37%

65%

Building more jails

10%

23%

 

  • A plurality of voters opposes a proposed expansion to West County Jail. In addition to opposing building more jails, 48 percent of Contra Costa voters oppose an expansion of West County Jail and 34 percent strongly oppose it, compared to 37 percent who support the expansion.

 

  • Contra Costa County voters value increasing access to housing for working families. Eighty-four percent of Contra Costa County voters named increasing access to housing that working families can afford an “extremely” or “very” important positive change they would like to see occur in their community. Additionally, when asked to rate a series of potential problems in their community, 68 percent identified the cost of housing as an “extremely” or “very” serious problem.

 

  • Voters strongly prefer providing mental health care in communities, rather than in jails. As seen in Figure 4 on the next page, a majority of Contra Costa County voters (58%) believe that mental health services should be provided in the community.

Providing Mental Health Services in Community v. Jails 

  • A majority of Contra Costa County voters agree that more Prop 47 dollars should be allocated towards community reinvestment policies. When given details about the total amount of savings from Prop 47 and the amount currently being spent on community reinvestment, 55 percent say that our state is spending too many of these funds on jails and too few on community reinvestment.

 

  • A majority of voters would like Contra Costa County to be a sanctuary county. Fifty-four percent of voters think Contra Costa County should be a sanctuary county that does not collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain undocumented immigrants. Fewer than a third believe the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department should collaborate with ICE.

 

Support for Making Contra Costa County a Sanctuary County

 

  • Additionally, a majority of Contra Costa voters oppose a contract with federal authorities to detain undocumented immigrants. Fifty-three percent of Contra Costa voters oppose a $3 million contract between the County Sheriff’s Department and ICE, which would require the County to detain up to 200 undocumented immigrants in the West County Jail facility.

Support for Detaining Undocumented Immigrants in West County Jail 

The results of the survey indicate that Contra Costa County voters support a broad set of community reinvestment policies and, in all cases, favor these approaches to community safety over investment in law enforcement.



[1] Methodology: Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted a survey of 605 voters in Contra Costa County, with a base sample of 400 voters across Contra Costa County and oversamples of 100 among Latino voters and voters under age 50. Interviews were conducted by landline and cellular telephone, from March 4-16, 2017. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.  The margin of sampling error for the sample is +/-4.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, and margins of error for population subgroups will be higher. Some percentages do not sum to 100% due to rounding.