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Just How Many People Are In Favor of the Death Penalty?

Today The Quad Cinema called and wanted to do a write up about the film for their E-Newsletter. They asked if I knew the percentage of Americans who were in favor of the death penalty and I said I did not know but could easily get that information. Well, that wasn't necessarily true. When trying to find this stat, I went to the usual places but was lost. I am not sure if a lot of the websites I look at are difficult to navigate or if I just did not use the right words to search for it.

Katy said that one reason why it is so hard to get these numbers is because there has been a lot of debate about how that question has been presented to Americans in the past. You can ask the average American, "Are you in favor of the death penalty?" and more of them say yes than no. But, if you ask the question, "Are you in favor of the death penalty even if life without parole is an option?" and the answer is somewhat different.

For the record, I did find this by going to our old standby, The Death Penalty Information Center under the "Deterrance" section. I am sharing the results with you so that you do not encounter the same difficulty that I did:

A May 2004 Gallup Poll found that a growing number of Americans support a sentence of life without parole rather than the death penalty for those convicted of murder. Gallup found that 46% of respondents favor life imprisonment over the death penalty, up from 44% in May 2003. During that same time frame, support for capital punishment as an alternative fell from 53% to 50%. The poll also revealed a growing skepticism that the death penalty deters crime, with 62% of those polled saying that it is not a deterrent. These percentages are a dramatic shift from the responses given to this same question in 1991, when 51% of Americans believed the death penalty deterred crime and only 41% believed it did not. Only 55% of those polled responded that they believed the death penalty is implemented fairly, down from 60% in 2003. When not offered an alternative sentence, 71% supported the death penalty and 26% opposed. The overall support is about the same as that reported in 2002, but down from the 80% support in 1994. (Gallup Poll News Service, June 2, 2004)

Posted by Angela at 01:26 PM


Someone made the comment that the death penalty was so final..tell me this..when you kill is that not final?What happened in our world for the killers to receive more mercy then the victims?I will not support evildoers who prey on the innocent..our laws are not perfect,but from where I stand few people anywhere feel safe anymore because these laws are changing so fast and crime has become a fact day and night 24 hours constantly with no breathing room..why is that?Its a simple answer to an age old question..no one fears punishment anymore..it begins in the heart..THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM,AND TO DEPART FROM THE EVIL IS THE UNDERSTANDING..if you have no fear,you certainly don't have any wisdom...does this mean that no matter how much book learning we have,we can still be DUMB AS A ROCK?I REST MY CASE!!

Posted by: sandie medlin at August 2, 2005 01:10 AM

My comments are these i think all people should be given a death penalty if they have killed someone especialy if they have murdered a child because that is really sick.If they killed someone to protect themself then they should be given another chance so that they can try forgive themselves and understand that they had to do that because someone els was trying to kill them.
the people that do kill need a syciatrist or be put away because they are just so stupid and they are crazy.

Posted by: katie at March 18, 2006 11:11 AM