Pew Poll Finds Opposition to Death Penalty Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities

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Further analysis of a recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that support for the death penalty was significantly lower among some racial and ethnic minorities than for the general population. More Hispanics oppose the death penalty (50%) than support it (40%), and the same is true of African Americans, with only about a third (36%) favoring capital punishment and a majority (55%) opposing it. Democrats are about evenly split, with 45% in favor and 47% opposed, while 71% of Republicans support it. Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics were among those most in opposition to capital punishment (58% and 54% opposed, respectively). Support was lower among younger Americans; for those in the age group 18-29, only 51% supported the death penalty. Overall, 55% of Americans in the poll supported the death penalty, the lowest level since Pew began polling on this question in 1996. Pew said greater public awareness of wrongful convictions and lower crime rates may be partly responsible for the declining support of capital punishment.

(D. DeSilver, “Lower support for death penalty tracks with falling crime rates, more exonerations,” Pew Research Center, March 28, 2014; “Shrinking Majority of Americans Support Death Penalty,” Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project, March 28, 2014). See Public Opinion and Innocence.