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There's a huge generational gap in trust of the justice system

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

Here's an alarming finding: A big, rising segment of the population has very little faith in a major American institution — the US justice system.

A new YouGov survey finds that nearly half of millennials see the justice system as fundamentally unjust — much higher than older age groups:

Nearly half of millennials see the justice system as unjust. YouGov

Not only that, but millennials, along with 30- to 44-year-olds, are much less likely to trust the police than older Americans:

Millennials are less likely to trust the police. YouGov

"The only group with less trust in the police than under-30s are black Americans, 40% of whom say that they have 'no trust' in the police," YouGov found.

One possible explanation: Younger people are much more likely to be on social media, which has proliferated images and videos of abuses in the criminal justice system over the past couple of years. It's these kinds of images that helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests racial disparities in the criminal justice system, particularly police use of force. And it's these types of images that possibly fueled distrust among millennials toward the justice system.

"Before, you had complaints, police stories, and witnesses' stories," Athena Mutua, a civil rights scholar at SUNY Buffalo Law School, previously told me. But video, paired with its spread on social media, "was important in getting protesters taken seriously."

If you're a police officer, you might think the criticisms are unfair — you might say, as many officers do, that some cops are bad apples, but not all police.

But even if you believe that, the fact is that a significant part of the country has lost faith in the justice system. Since police officers rely so much on cooperation — from witnesses, victims, and so on — to solve and deter crimes, they're going to have to find a way to rebuild that trust.


Watch: Why it's so important to film the police

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