Majority Of Americans No Longer Support Death Penalty

| by Robert Fowler
A lethal injection tableA lethal injection table

New polling indicates that less than half of Americans currently support capital punishment, a dramatic drop from 2015.

On Sept. 30, a new Pew Research Center survey found that only 49 percent of Americans favor administering the death penalty against convicted murders while 42 percent opposed the punishment, the BBC reports.

While a near majority of Americans still believe in the death penalty, this marks a startling shift in public perception. In comparison, a previous survey conducted by Pew found that 56 percent of Americans favored capital punishment in March 2015.

Previous Gallup polls found that only 42 percent of Americans found the death penalty acceptable in 1966. Those numbers slowly crawled up in the ensuing decades; in 1994, roughly 80 percent of Americans supported capital punishment.

Breaking down the latest survey results, the data indicates that self-identifying Republicans are far more likely to favor the death penalty than Democrats. In fact, 72 percent of Republican respondents were in favor while only 34 percent of Democratic respondents agreed.

Gender also appears to play a role in how someone perceives the death penalty. When it comes to men, 55 percent support capital punishment while 38 percent oppose. Meanwhile, only 43 percent of women are in favor while 45 percent are against.

There is also a racial divide in attitudes toward the death penalty, as 57 percent of white people support capital punishment but only 29 percent of African-Americans do; only 36 percent of Hispanics are in support.

Only 42 percent of respondents aged between 18 and 29 supported capital punishment while 51 percent of those aged 30 and older were in favor. Respondents without a college degree favor the death penalty more than those with one by 8 percentage points.

In the U.S., 30 states have the death penalty. Three states will have ballot measures concerning capital punishment in the November election, Policy Mic reports.

California voters will have two different propositions to vote on this time. One would abolish the death penalty altogether in the state, while the other would keep it in place but reform the appeals process.

Oklahoma voters will have the choice to add the death penalty as an option to their justice system. Meanwhile, Nebraska voters will decide whether or not to reinstate their previously banned capital punishment practices.

The U.S. has so far executed 15 inmates in 2016, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Sources: BBC, Death Penalty Information Center, Policy Mic / Photo credit: Ken Piorkowsky/Flickr

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