A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed a significant decline in support for the death penalty as 64% of respondents supported the punishment compared to 78% in 1996. In addition, the poll found that fewer respondents who favored capital punishment felt strongly about their support (28% today compared to 43% in 1996), while a growing number of Americans are voicing opposition to the punishment altogether (30% today compared to 18% in 1996).

Other Pew Research Center polling results include:

  • 58% of Americans oppose the execution of persons who commit murder when they were under the age of 18. Among African-American voters, 80% oppose the juvenile death penalty.
  • 55% of African-Americans oppose capital punishment, and 39% favor its use. These findings are a reverse of polling data collected in 1996 that showed 54% of African-Americans supporting the death penalty and 36% opposed to the punishment.
  • Today, just over half of Hispanics support the death penalty compared to three-in-four in 1996.
  • Support for the death penalty among mainline Protestants has dropped from 85% in 1996 to 70% today. Among white Catholics, 69% currently support capital punishment compared to 79% in 1996. Secular support has also slipped, down from 78% in 1996 to 60% today.

(“Religion and Politics: Contention and Consensus,” Pew Research Center, July 24, 2003). Read the report. See Public Opinion.