New Polls on the Death Penalty

The latest Gallup Poll found support for the death penalty at 74%, a figure equal to the level in 2003 and less than the 80% support registered in 1994. The poll found that support for capital punishment dropped to 56% when respondents were given the alternative sentencing option of life without parole, less than the 61% support in 1997 with the same question. The percentage of respondents who believe an innocent person has been executed in recent years has dropped from 73% in 2003 to 59% this year. (The Gallup Organization Press Release, May 19, 2005).

A recent CBS News Poll (April 17, 2005) found the public more evenly split on the death penalty. In response to the question "What do you think should be the penalty for persons convicted of murder--the death penalty,  life in prison with no chance of parole, or a long prison sentence with a chance of parole?", only 39% chose the death penalty, 39% chose life with no parole, 6% said a long sentence with parole, and 13% volunteered the answer "depnds."  (Roper Center at Univ. of Conn., May 17, 2005).  See Public Opinion.