PUBLIC OPINION: California Poll Shows Increase in Support for Life Without Parole

A recent poll conducted in California showed that support for life without parole for first-degree murder has increased among registered voters since 2000. When asked which sentence they preferred for a first-degree murderer, 42% of registered voters said they preferred life without parole and 41% said they preferred the death penalty. In 2000, when voters were asked the same question, 37% chose life without parole while 44% chose the death penalty. Some commentators say that the increased support for life without parole and decreased support for the death penalty is very telling. Stefanie Faucher, associate director of Death Penalty Focus, said "I think they reflect a growing preference for life without parole as an alternative. It is more cost-effective, is carried out more quickly and doesn't drag victims through years of appeals." The Field Poll revealed that 70% of California’s registered voters support the death penalty, but Faucher says that figure represents support for the death penalty “in the abstract” and is less revealing than people’s views on what punishment they prefer.

(B. Egelko, "Field Poll finds 70% support death penalty," San Francsico Chronicle, July 22, 2010).  Support for life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty has been gaining support in national polls as well.  See Life Without Parole and Public Opinion.