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June 28, 2014

Despite ugly execution, Oklahomans still strongly support death penalty

The new article from the Tulsa World, headlined "Most Oklahomans strongly favor death penalty, poll shows," highlights that public opinion has not turned against the death penalty in Oklahoma in the wake of the state's recent struggles with lethal injection. Here are the details:

Most Oklahomans favor the death penalty and find it “morally acceptable,” although a smaller percentage think it deters crime, according to a new Oklahoma Poll. About 74 percent of those surveyed said they favored the death penalty for those convicted of murder. That figure includes about 23 percent of respondents who said they “somewhat favor” the death penalty.

Support for the death penalty is higher in Oklahoma than in the nation as a whole. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans favored the death penalty. The national number has declined from a peak of 80 percent support in 1994.

The state also has a higher proportion of conservatives, who tend to favor the death penalty in greater numbers than the nation as a whole. Nearly 83 percent of Oklahoma Poll respondents who identified themselves as conservative said they favored the death penalty. Only about 12 percent of respondents in the Sooner Poll said they “strongly oppose” the death penalty. However, that figure varied with respondents’ age. Almost 40 percent of people from 18 to 44 years old said they opposed the death penalty, while less than 18 percent of those 65 and older were opposed.

The botched April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett apparently did little to influence views on the death penalty, according to the poll results. Nearly 70 percent said the execution did not cause them to begin questioning their views on the death penalty. People younger than 45 were more likely to say Lockett’s execution has influenced their views....

Of those Oklahomans surveyed, only 37 percent said they strongly agreed that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime. Nearly 22 percent surveyed said they strongly disagreed with that statement, indicating that at least some respondents support the death penalty even if they don’t believe it deters crime....

Almost 70 percent of Oklahomans polled said they believed the death penalty was “morally acceptable” regardless of whether they thought it should be legal, according to the poll. About 20 percent said they viewed it as “morally wrong.”

A majority of those polled — 58 percent — said lethal injection was the most humane method of execution, compared to 10 percent who favored firing squad. About 9 percent favored the electric chair, and 5 percent advocated for hangings.

June 28, 2014 at 06:24 PM | Permalink

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Comments

These polls are valueless. They ask something that is still abstract to most people, rather like the Iraq war. At the start nearly 75% of the public supported war .... when it became up close and personal, the support rapidly fell off to less than 33%. It is the role of Governments and legislators to take a responsible evaluation of the real need for issues such as war and the death penalty. Both are a choice. Both are avoidable, more so today than at any point in human history. Vast areas of the United States, let alone in the rest of the world, have demonstrated that the death penalty is a punishment too far. It is not a requirement to achieve law and order, rather it is an expensive and valueless distraction. It is good to see that increasing numbers of politicians are beginning to understand that an eagerness to kill is not the vote winner it was thought once upon a time, in spite of rather silly polls like this.

Posted by: peter | Jun 29, 2014 6:26:33 AM

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