Support for death penalty at lowest level in 45 years
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A new Gallup poll shows 55 percent of Americans are in favor of the death penalty, the lowest percentage since 1972.

While the majority of Americans still favors capital punishment, support is at its lowest since 1972, when 50 percent of people supported the death penalty for convicted murderers.

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Support for the death penalty has steadily declined since 1994, when 80 percent of Americans were in favor of it, according to Gallup.

A slim majority — 51 percent — now says the death penalty is applied fairly, reflecting a split over  common criticism that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to minority defendants.

Thirty-one states currently allow the death penalty.

In 2016, 30 convicted criminals were sentenced to death in 2016, while 20 executions were carried out. The latter was the lowest number since 1991.

Federal law outlines 16 factors juries must consider when debating whether the death penalty is justified, including whether the victim was a “high public official” or the accused committed the crime in a particularly cruel way.

The House, in May, passed legislation that would have made the murder of a law enforcement officer punishable by death.

Results for the poll are based on telephone interviews conducted from Oct. 5-11 with 1,028 adults living in the U.S. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.