Public opinion has been one of the drivers of mass imprisonment in the US, and of punitive sentencing generally in other countries. It is likely that Life without Parole (LWOP) sentences or ‘Three strikes’ sentencing laws would not have proliferated without widespread public support. Yet there is now evidence that the public mood is changing. Recent research and surveys have demonstrated strong support for a less punitive approach to punishing offenders. This seminar will highlight the latest findings in the area, and discuss the growing gap between the mass use of imprisonment and public opinion in the US. We pay particular attention to racial differences in attitudes to sentencing and the use of imprisonment.