Sunday, May 5, 2013

Surge in support of death penalty for Tsarnaev

The decline of capital punishment marked a milestone this week,  Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to abolish the death penalty in nearly 50 years, joining only West Virginia, reported The Associated Press.

The passage was a significant victory for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who opposes capital punishment and is considering seeking the 2016 presidential nomination. Death penalty opponents said the governor helped maintain the national momentum of repeal efforts by making Maryland the sixth state in as many years to abolish capital punishment.

In a recent Washington Post Maryland poll, 63 percent of whites and only 37 percent of African Americans said they favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

However, an interesting about-face occurred in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. A large majority of white Americans, 75 percent, support the death penalty for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if convicted in federal court, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

One in three people who said they opposed the death penalty in the first poll, now support the death penalty for Tsarnaev.  Apparently, although they initially said they opposed capital punishment there were some exceptions-like being aware of the crime or personally touched by it even if the touch was through a television while sitting unscathed on the living room couch.

I had previously written about this phenomenon--a surge in support for the death penalty in high profile cases.

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