Poll: Majority of Americans favor death penalty despite some reservations

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A majority of Americans favor the death penalty despite having some reservations about how it is administered, according to a poll from Pew Research Center released Tuesday.

The survey found that 60 percent of U.S. adults favor capital punishment for people convicted of murder, including 27 percent who strongly support it. Thirty-nine percent of respondents oppose the death penalty.

Sixty-four percent of respondents overall — and 90 percent of death penalty supporters — said that executions are morally justified in cases of murder. A quarter of death penalty opponents say it is morally justified in instances of murder.

Partisanship plays a major role in supporting capital punishment, with 77 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican favoring it, compared to 46 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic.

Twenty-three states have abolished the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, including most recently Virginia, which did so in late March.

At the federal level, only 50 executions have been carried out since 1927, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The agency lists 10 executions performed in 2020, and three in January 2021.

Pew found that 78 percent of respondents said they have some concern about putting an innocent person to death, and 56 percent said that Black Americans are more likely than white people to be sentenced to death.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said the death penalty does not deter people from committing serious crimes.

Pew surveyed 5,109 adults between April 5-11. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Tags Capital punishment death penalty executions Pew Research Center

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