Thursday, June 3, 2021

A majority of Americans still support the death penalty

The latest Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday found that a majority of Americans favor the death penalty, despite having some reservations about how it’s administered and about the prospect of putting innocent people being put to death, according to The Crime Report. 

The figure represents a slight but steady decline in support from 65 percent in a poll taken nearly a year ago.

The finding appears to contradict other recent polls purporting to show larger declines in support for capital punishment, but researchers say they have reformed their methodology to provide a more accurate picture.

The poll published Tuesday shows that a majority of Americans — 60 percent — favor  the death penalty for those who are convicted of murder, and 27 percent strongly favor it. Pew Researchers made clear that the caveats expressed by poll respondents reflect other surveys on capital punishment, which show “widespread doubts about its administration, fairness and whether it deters serious crimes.” 

The survey was conducted between April 5-11 and administered through a self-reporting online survey with 5,109 U.S. adults on the Center’s American Trends Panel responding. The support was five percentage points lower than it was in August 2020, when 65 percent of people said they favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder, the report said.

The researchers also found that a majority (63 percent)  believe the death penalty does not deter people from committing serious crimes, while 35 percent of people surveyed believe that it does. 

Another key finding of the report was that one thing has remained consistent in Pew’s research: individuals who identify with the Republican party tend to favor the death penalty more than Democrats.

Similarly, white Americans surveyed are considerably more supportive than Black Americans, while also being less concerned about racial disparities. 

When asked if Black people are more likely than white people to be sentenced to the death penalty for committing similar crimes, 56 percent agreed with that statement, while the other 41 percent of those surveyed believed instead that both groups are equally likely to be sentenced to the death penalty for committing similar crimes. 

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