New National Poll Shows Decrease in Support for Capital Punishment

The Gallup Poll’s latest national survey of American opinion on the death penalty found that support for capital punishment dropped by 5 percentage points from 2007, down to 64% support from 69% last year. The pecentage of those opposing capital punishment rose from 27% to 30%. This poll reflects that support for the death penalty is equal to the lowest level in the Gallup Polls during the past 30 years.  Support had reached a high of 80% in 1994.

The last time Gallup asked respondents about alternatives (which would be a better punishment for murder, the death penalty or life in prison with absolutely no possibility of parole) was in 2006. In that poll, more people supported life in prison without parole (48%) than supported the death penalty (47%).


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PUBLIC OPINION: Colorado Voters Would Rather Spend Money on Cold Cases than on Death Penalty

A recent Colorado poll conducted by RBI Strategies and Research found that 63% of citizens believe that money spent on the death penalty would be better used to close unsolved murder cases. Citizens likely to vote in the next election were told that the death penalty costs the state an extra $3 million per year, and then asked "would you favor or oppose replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, and using the money saved to track down and prosecute the killers in unsolved murder cases?” Forty-three percent were strongly in favor of such a change in spending and another 20% somewhat in favor. Only 27% opposed such a redirection of funds. Interestingly, voters were generally against cutting money from the law enforcement budget to pursue cold cases, but were in favor of cutting the money from death penalty prosecutions. The poll found that Coloradans were evenly split on the proper punishment for murder, with 45% supporting life without parole and the same percentage supporting the death penalty.

Colorado has executed one person in the past 40 years and has one inmate on death row.

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New Poll Finds Increase in Opposition to Death Penalty

A recent Harris Interactive poll of over 1,000 American adults found that the number of people who oppose the death penalty has increased since 2003. Thirty-percent (30%) of those sampled oppose the death penalty, an increase of 8 percentage points in the past 5 years. The percentage of respondents who "believe in capital punishment" has dropped significantly since 1997, when 75% supported the death penalty.  In 2008, that number had declined to 63%, the lowest number in recent years.

The poll also found that 52% of Americans do not believe that the death penalty deters others from committing murder. Likewise, 95% of those polled stated that they believe that sometimes innocent people are convicted of murder. Among this group, 58% said they would then oppose the death penalty based upon the knowledge that some innocent people are convicted of murder. This represents a strong increase since the year 2000, when only 36% said that cases of innocence would lead them to oppose the death penalty.

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RELIGIOUS VIEWS: Christians Concerned about Execution of Innocent People

A recent poll by found that two-thirds of active Christians who oppose the death penalty are concerned about judicial error that could lead to an innocent person being executed.  The poll also found that of Christians who do support the death penalty, 60% do so because of biblical teachings.  According to a Pew Forum poll from 2007, the strongest supporters of the death penalty are white evangelicals, with 74% approval.  However, John Whitehead, president of the conservative Rutherford Institute, remarked , “It's anti-evangelical to kill people. Christianity is redemptive. But you can't redeem people by extinguishing them."

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