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October 14, 2009

Latest Gallup poll showing support for death penalty reamins strong

0w0agwqyv06y25k3lorgxq As detailed in this Gallup report, which is headlined "In U.S., Two-Thirds Continue to Support Death Penalty," the latest, greatest polling numbers show that "65% of Americans continue to support the use of the death penalty for persons convicted of murder, while 31% oppose it -- continuing a trend that has shown little change over the last six years."  Here are more of the highlights from the report:

Gallup's death-penalty data stretch back more than seven decades -- making attitudes toward the death penalty one of Gallup's oldest trends. Gallup's earliest reading, in 1936, found that 59% of Americans supported the use of the death penalty in cases of murder, compared to 38% who opposed it. The all-time high level of 80% support came in September 1994, just before the midterm elections that swept Democrats out of power and at a time when Americans most often cited crime as the most important problem facing the nation. The low points came in the period of time from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s. During some of this time, the death penalty was illegal, and support dropped as low as 42% in 1966.

This year's update also shows that nearly half (49%) of Americans say the death penalty is not imposed often enough, roughly in line with the trend on this measure since 2002. Twenty-four percent say it is imposed "about the right amount," while 20% say it is imposed too often -- a percentage that has been only as high as 23% in recent years....

Another argument [made by opponents] against the death penalty focuses on cases in which it has been shown that innocent people have been put to death. The finality of execution obviously precludes the possibility of redress if, at some later point, DNA or other evidence finds that the individual in question was wrongly convicted of his or her crime. The American public would appear to be somewhat sympathetic to this argument: this year's poll finds 59% of Americans agreeing that within the last five years, "a person has been executed under the death penalty who was, in fact, innocent of the crime he or she was charged with." A little less than a third disagree.

However, for many Americans, agreement with the assertion that innocent people have been put to death does not preclude simultaneous endorsement of the death penalty. A third of all Americans, 34%, believe an innocent person has been executed and at the same time support the death penalty. This is higher than the 23% who believe an innocent person has been executed and simultaneously oppose the death penalty. Looked at differently, the data show that 57% of those who believe an innocent person has been executed also support the death penalty. This is significantly higher than the 39% who hold this belief and (perhaps more consistently) oppose the death penalty.

October 14, 2009 at 08:16 AM | Permalink

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Comments

No cause for pride here.

Posted by: FW | Oct 14, 2009 5:07:19 PM

What are the proportions of support or opposition for the death penalty, not among the lawyer hierarchy, but among the lawyer street?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 15, 2009 8:16:58 PM

What is the "lawyer street?" And how does our supposedly "Christian" country reconcile favoring putting someone to death and Jesus's philosophy of foregivness and rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's? Isn't it God's domain to give and take life? Or does that argument only work when abortion is the issue?

Posted by: denise Pennick | Oct 15, 2009 9:36:24 PM

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