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National Poll Finds Changing Attitudes Toward Death Penalty

Earlier this week, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) published the results of a national poll about Americans’ views on the death penalty.  Here are some of the key findings:

  • The poll showed growing support for alternatives to the death penalty when compared with previous polls.
  • 61% of voters would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.
    • 39% would choose a sentence of life without the possibility of parole and with restitution to the victim’s family.
    • 13% would choose life with no possibility of parole.
    • 8% would choose life with the possibility of parole.
  • In states with the death penalty, 62% of voters said that it would make no difference in how they voted if a representative supported repeal of the death penalty.
  • Costs associated with the death penalty emerged as a strong concern for a majority of voters.
  • 65% of respondents said that they would favor replacing the death penalty with life without parole if the money saved were used to fund crime prevention programs.
  • Hispanic voters were among those most willing to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment.
  • Some of the top concerns about the death penalty were: it was applied unevenly and unfairly; it subjects victims’ families to lengthy trials and years of appeals that interfere with the healing process; it risks executing the innocent.
  • Moral or religious objections to the death penalty were strong among Latino and Catholic voters.

According to Richard Dieter, Executive Director of Death Penalty Information Center, “For decades, politicians have equated being tough on crime with support for the death penalty, but this research suggests voters want their elected officials to be smart on crime, use tax dollars wisely, and fund the services they care about the most. Capital punishment is not a high priority for voters and is not the ‘third rail’ of politics.”

More information about the poll can be found at

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