Support For The Death Penalty Lowest In 40 Years In The US

A new Pew Research Center survey indicates that while a majority of Americans continue to favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, the number who support the use of the death penalty is the lowest it has been in 40 years.  Support for the death penalty was highest in the 1980s and 1990s, peaking at 78 percent in 1996 before declining steadily to 56 percent in 2015.  The decline can be seen in all political groups, but has been steepest among Democrats, only 40 percent of whom now support the death penalty.  Women and minorities are significantly less likely to support the death penalty than men and Whites.

Overall, Americans tend to think that the death penalty is morally justified in cases of murder, but they express doubts about how the death penalty is applied and whether it deters serious crime.  They are also concerned about racial disparities in the application of the death penalty.



Perhaps as a reflection of this public opinion shift, death sentences are becoming rarer and death row populations are declining.
"Most of the 32 death-penalty states have fewer people on their death rows now than they did in the peak year of 2000. The big exception is California, where dozens of convicted criminals have been sentenced to death in recent years (25 in 2013) but no one has been executed since 2006, when court rulings forbade the state from using its three-drug lethal-injection protocol. [...] The other notable exception to the trend of smaller death rows: the federal government. In 2000, only 20 prisoners were facing federal death sentences. That figure has more than tripled since, to 62 as of the beginning of this year, according to the NAACP report."

Read more:
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/22/americas-death-row-population-is-shrinking/#more-269108
http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/16/less-support-for-death-penalty-especially-among-democrats/
http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5156

TeachingwithData.org resources:
The Death Penalty (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3114)
Frederique Laubepin

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