A May 2006 Gallup Poll examining American opinion about the death penalty found that when given a choice between the sentencing options of life without parole and the death penalty, only 47% of respondents chose capital punishment, the lowest percentage in two decades. Forty-eight percent favored life without parole for those convicted of murder. The poll also revealed that overall support for the death penalty remains low at 65%, down significantly from 1994 when 80% supported capital punishment.

When asked whether the death penalty deters murder, 64% of those polled stated that it does not; only 34% believe it does deter. This is a dramatic shift from the 1980s and early 1990s, when the majority of Americans still believed that the death penalty prevented murder. 63% of those polled believe that an innocent person has been executed in the past 5 years, an increase over previous results.

(Gallup News Service, June 1, 2006). See Public Opinion and Life Without Parole.