Pew Poll Shows Sharp Drop in Death Penalty Support

Support for the death penalty has fallen sharply by 23 percentage points since 1996, reaching its lowest level in almost two decades, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. The 2013 poll also found a 10 point drop in just the last 2 years in respondents who say they “strongly favor” the death penalty, from 28% to 18%. The percentage of Americans who say they oppose the death penalty has risen to 37%. In 2011, Pew asked respondents about the reasons behind their views on the death penalty, finding that the top two reasons for opposition to capital punishment were the imperfect nature of the justice system and a belief that the death penalty is immoral. The drop in public support coincides with an overall decline in use of the death penalty during the same time period, with both death sentences and executions falling dramatically since the 1990s. Six states have repealed the death penalty in the last six years, and three governors have recently imposed moratoriums on executions.

(M. Lipka, “Support for death penalty drops among Americans,” Pew Research Center, February 12, 2014).

Source: Death Penalty Information Center