Monday, September 8, 2014

Americans' Support For Death Penalty Declining: Pew Study

Via Digby, we have the following from a Pew Research Center survey:
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 55% of U.S. adults say they favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. A significant minority (37%) oppose the practice.

While a majority of U.S. adults still support the death penalty, public opinion in favor of capital punishment has seen a modest decline since November 2011, the last time Pew Research asked the question. In 2011, fully six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) favored the death penalty for murder convictions, and 31% opposed it.

Public support for capital punishment has ebbed and flowed over time, as indicated by polls going all the way back to the 1930s. But it has been gradually ticking downward for the past two decades, since Pew Research began collecting survey data on this issue. ...

Please see the death penalty favorable/unfavorable graph at the link above. There are peaks in the mid-1950s and mid-1990s. I will not venture to explain either peak, but I will say that at present we know a few more compelling reasons to oppose the death penalty categorically; two reasons in particular are the discovery of how frequently an innocent person is executed despite supposed precautions against such false convictions, and a growing body of evidence that the punishment is in fact cruel in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment, but I'll try to address the issue more fully in the near future, including the marked disparity by race of the person surveyed.

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