Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Good & Bad News On The Death Penalty
Gallup Poll regarding the death penalty. Gallup has been surveying Americans on this issue since 1937 (when support for the death penalty was about 59%). The lowest support was in 1966, when only 42% of the general public was in favor of it. After that, the support for punishing those who kill by killing them began to climb. It reached a peak in 1994, with 80% support.
The good news is that since 1994 the support for punishing criminals by killing them has been dropping. And this year that support dropped to 60% -- the lowest level of support since 1972 (more than 40 years). In my opinion that's still far too high, but at least it's moving in the right direction (toward less support rather than more).
The bad news is, of course, that 60% (or six out of every ten Americans) still support the death penalty. But the bottom chart shows something even more troubling. Only 52% of the general public thinks the death penalty is administered fairly in our society, but 60% are in favor of giving and carrying out the death penalty. That leaves 8% (probably those who were not sure whether it was administered fairly to not) who are in favor of killing even though they are not sure it is done fairly.
I have to admit that I just can't understand such an attitude. How can anyone be in favor of taking a human life without being absolutely sure that it is done in a fair and just way?
The most unsurprising thing about the poll was in which political groups support the death penalty. Support is the least among Democrats, as less than half of them support it (47%). Independents support the death penalty at the same rate the general public does (60%). The most bloodthirsty group of all are the Republicans, with 81% (or four out of five) supporting the death penalty as a punishment.