Americans’ Support for Death Penalty at 40-Year Low

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Support for capital punishment has reached a 40-year low in the United States, driven largely by a significant decline among Democrats.


A majority of Americans (60%) back the death penalty for convicted murderers. But this level of support is the lowest since November 1972, when 57% were in favor, according to a new Gallup poll.


Support for executions peaked in 1994 at 80%. It has dropped since then, particularly with Democrats. Only 47% of Democratic voters now back the death penalty, representing a 28-point decline over the past 19 years.


An overwhelming number of Republicans (81%) still favor it, while 60% of independents back it.


Another interesting finding in the Gallup survey is this: Although 60% of Americans believe in the death penalty, only 52% say it is applied fairly. Forty percent believe it is applied unfairly.


Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones says support may be weakening because of reports of innocent prisoners put to death, leading some states to impose moratoriums on executions.


Six states since 2006 have repealed death penalty laws, including Maryland this year. Currently, 18 states do not permit capital punishment.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

U.S. Death Penalty Support Lowest in More Than 40 Years (by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup)

4 States Account for Three-Quarters of U.S. Executions (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Support for Death Penalty Hits 39-Year Low (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)       


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