Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Public Opinion Poll: 83 Percent of Americans Support the Death Penalty

The Crime Report, an online site for news and multimedia information and networking resource for journalists, practitioners, researchers, and the general public, recently posted two very different opinion polls regarding the death penalty.

Last week, The Crime Report posted that Angus Reid Public Opinion found that most Americans support the death penalty in murder cases, but are divided on whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent for potential criminals. The online survey of a representative sample of 1,006 adults found that 83 percent of respondents support punishing homicide with the death penalty, while 13 percent are opposed.

A majority would also use capital punishment to punish rape (62%) and kidnapping (51%), but not armed robbery (40%). While 39 percent think capital punishment acts as a deterrent, 35 percent disagree.

Interestingly, four-in-five respondents (81%) believe innocent people have been executed in the U.S.; only six per cent think that this has never happened. There are no known incidents of an innocent person being executed in the United States since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976.

Yesterday, The Crime Report posted a national poll of 1,500 registered voters conducted on behalf of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) by Lake Research Partners. The DPIC claims growing support for alternatives to the death penalty.

The DPIC found that 61 percent of voters would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, including life with no possibility of parole and with restitution to the victim’s family (39 percent), life with no possibility of parole (13 percent), or life with the possibility of parole (9 percent). The DPIC is opposed to capital punishment.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said cost was a very or somewhat convincing argument against the death penalty. Voters ranked emergency services, creating jobs, police and crime prevention, schools and libraries, public health care services, and roads and transportation as more important budget priorities than the death penalty, said the survey. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed would favor replacing the death penalty with life with no possibility of parole if the money saved were used to fund crime prevention programs, according to The Crime Report.

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