Americans’ support for the death penalty is at its lowest in 40 years, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.
The recent shortage of the commonly used lethal injection drug pentobarbital has left states looking for alternative drugs to execute prisoners on death raw. The issue has raised questions about the safety and possible cruelty inflicted by using alternative methods not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
As national conscience turns towards the capital punishment itself, Gallup found three out of five Americans surveyed still favor the death penalty.
Overall approval of capital punishment for convicted murderers is about 60 percent – the lowest approval rating since November 1972, when 57 percent of Americans supported the death penalty. About 44 percent said the death penalty was not imposed often enough, according to the survey of 1,028 people from Oct. 3-6.
Capital punishment met with a great deal of disapproval around the year 2000, when several death-row inmates were later proven innocent, according to Gallup. Since then six states abolished the death penalty.
The death penalty is currently implemented in 32 states. It has been abolished in 18 states and Washington D.C.
In 2000, the New York Times published a survey on the impact of the death penalty on state murder rates. They found that states with no death penalty have lower homicide rates than states that have a death penalty. At the time only 12 states had abolished capital punishment.