State Polls and Studies

 
Date

Issues:
Alabama 7/05 temporary halt to executions
7/2/00 arbitrariness, declining support, DNA testing, innocence
Arizona 7/00 executing juveniles or those with mental retardation, moratorium, life without parole
California 9/11 More voters (48%) now prefer life without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty for convicted murderers.
5/11 63% support for converting all current death row sentences to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole in order to save the state $1 billion dollars in five years
3/06 declining support
5/04 support for DA Kamala Harris' decision to not seek Death Penalty
2/04 declining support, fairness
11/2/00 declining support, moratorium
6/22/00 moratorium
1/18/00 life without parole
Colorado 4/08 CO Voters Prefer Money to be Spent on Cold Cases
Connecticut 03/11 death penalty support
05/09 death penalty support
11/07 death penalty support
01/05 life without parole
07/03 appeals, innocence
4/01 moratorium, life without parole, racial and economic bias, deterrence
2/00 life without parole, racial and economic bias, wrongful convictions, DNA testing
1/7/00 deterrence, racial disparity, innocence
Florida 8/7/00 life without parole
Georgia 1/16/03 executing juvenile offenders
Illinois 2/6/03 declining support, support for Governor Ryan's decision to commute death sentences
12/02 support for Governor George Ryan commuting death sentences
10/25/02 declining support
8/02 support for moratorium
4/02 support for Ryan's moratorium, support for Commission's recommendations
3/02 support for moratorium
1/26/01 adequate defense, wrongful executions, life without parole, moratorium
3/7/00 declining support, life without parole, moratorium, eyewitness testimony
3/28/99 declining support, moratorium
Iowa 2/13 65% of those surveyed say they favor reviving capital punishment for certain crimes.
Kansas 2/12/07 Life without Parole support
Kentucky 1/2013 Two-thirds of Kentuckians want to keep death penalty
12/2011 Kentucky assessment on death penalty
12/06 Life without Parole
7-8/02 death penalty for juvenile offenders
12/99 declining support, life without parole
7/13/97 life without parole
Louisiana 4/29/01 moratorium, support of politicians who vote for moratorium
Maryland 2/13 Sixty percent of adults in the poll say that Maryland law should allow for the death penalty, while 36 percent support replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
1/13 49% support death penalty, 61% say life without parole is acceptable alternative to death penalty.
10/07 Prefer Life without Parole
2/07 Broad Support for Life without Parole
03/05 declining support
10/04 declining support
03/2004 declining support
1/2-4/02 moratorium
Massachusetts 4/03 declining support
Michigan 2/04 life without parole
5/01 declining support, life without parole
5/99 declining support, life without parole
Minnesota 3/20/00 declining support
Missouri 2/6/03 support for the death penalty
12/6/99 life without parole, moratorium, support of politicians who vote against the death penalty
New Hampshire 5/8/00 abolition, arbitrariness, innocence, life without parole
New Jersey 5/05 life without parole favored over death penalty
4/05 favor life without parole
5/02 declining support, life without parole, support for a moratorium
New Mexico 10/02 life without parole
New York 3/06 rejecting the death penalty
3/8/05 against death penalty reinstated
2/15/05 support for alternatives to the death penalty
3/19/03 life without parole
3/02 life without parole
6/17/98 favor of life sentences
3/27/98 life without parole, deterrence
9/24/97 life without parole, deterrence
North Carolina 12/10 death penalty support wanes
12/10 death penalty support wanes
2/09 death penalty support wanes
4/07 death penalty support wanes
12/05 moratorium support
5/04 moratorium support
11/23/03 moratorium
9/18/03 declining support, life without parole, moratorium
9/12/03 moratorium support, moratorium support by Women and African-Americans
6/29/01 support for moratorium, executing those with mental retardation, wrongful executions
9/13/00 fairness, moratorium
9/9/00 declining support, executing those with mental retardation, moratorium
11/17/99 declining support, racial disparitydeclining support, racial disparity
Ohio 5/14/14 support for life options outweighs death penalty
2/19/14 support for life without parole or life with chance of parole
8/6/00 DNA testing, life without parole, innocence
11/19/99 life without parole, wrongful executions
10/1/97 life without parole, wrongful executions
Oklahoma 4/03 death penalty for juvenile offenders, moratorium
5/27/01 innocence, DNA
1/9/01 deterrence, moratorium
Oregon 2/1/12 OPB poll found that in Oregon 57% favor the death penalty for some crimes; 39% oppose it. 4% say the don't know.
Pennsylvania 1/07 death penalty support, life without parole
3/01 moratorium, life without parole, economic and racial disparity
South Carolina
 
9/9/00 declining support, executing those with mental retardation, moratorium
South Dakota 11/06 death penalty support
Texas 11/8/13 98% of respondants believe that people are wrongfully convicted of capital crimes
5/24/12 support for death penalty, less support when LWOP is an option, majority believe death penalty is applied fairly.
6/14/07 slightly declining support
5/05 public support in Houston
9/04 moratorium
3/16/03 support for life without parole, wrongful executions
12/31/02 how Houston residents view the death penalty compared to Texas and the rest of the nation
06/02 support for moratorium, innocence, LWOP
11/01 Andrea Yates
3/1/01 wrongful executions, DNA testing, life without parole, executing the mentally retarded
1/4/01 wrongful convictions, racial disparities, life without parole
6/21/00 DNA testing, moratorium, wrongful executions
1/14/99 rehabilitation
3/15/98 declining support, deterrence, life without parole
1/22/98 Karla Faye Tucker
Virginia
5/02 life without parole, opposition to 21-day rule
11/6/00 declining support, DNA testing
8/13/99 declining support, life without parole
1997 life without parole, opposition to 21-day rule
Wisconsin
8/2013 50.5 percent of Wisconsinites oppose capital punishment for convicted murderers, while 46.6 percent support it.
7/2006 death penalty with DNA support, life without parole
STATE POLLS

ALABAMA


  • Support for Capital Punishment Drops in Alabama The results of a Mobile Register/University of South Alabama poll, show that among adults in Alabama:
    • 63% said they support capital punishment, a smaller number than polls in recent years showed
    • 70% said that it was likely or very likely that an innocent person has been executed in Alabama in the last 100 years
    • 85% said the federal government should require states to permit DNA testing in all cases in which it might prove a person's guilt or innocence
    • Over 60% agreed that poor people are more likely to be sentenced to death than more affluent defendants charged with the same crime (Mobile Register, 7/2/00).


ARIZONA


  • Arizonans Support Exempting Juveniles and those with Mental Retardation from Execution; Favor Moratorium. A poll by the Behavior Research Center found that support for the death penalty in Arizona drops significantly when specific circumstances are introduced. Among the poll findings:
    • 71% oppose the death penalty for those with mental retardation; only 11% favor the death penalty in such cases.
    • 42% oppose the death penalty if the convicted murderer is a juvenile offender, while only 37% support such use.
    • 49% favor a two year moratorium on the use of the death penalty while the legislature studies whether it is being properly used; 41% oppose such a moratorium, and 10% are unsure.
    • When offered the sentencing option of life in prison with no possibility of parole, support is divided, with 46% favoring life in prison and 46% favoring the death penalty. (Behavior Research Center, July 2000).


CALIFORNIA


  • Californians' support for the death penalty is declining according to results of a new survey conducted in February 2006 by the Field Poll. The statewide poll revealed that only 63% of respondents favor keeping the death penalty for serious crimes, a figure that is lower than the 72% support for the death penalty measured in 2002 and significantly less than the 83% who voiced support for capital punishment in both 1985 and 1986. The survey also found a growing segment of the population questioning the fairness of the death penalty. The poll asked Californians if they believed the death penalty has been "generally fair and free from error." Among respondents, 48% said yes, 39% said no, and 13% had no opinion. When the same question was posed during a poll two years ago, 58% said the system was fair, and 31% disagreed. "The sophistication of Californians on this issue is growing. We're getting close to that point when the death penalty can no longer drive political decisions as it has in the past," noted Lance Lindsey, Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus. In the three months leading up to the Field Poll, California carried out two executions, including the highly publicized execution of Stanley Williams and the execution of Clarence Ray Allen, who at 76 years old was blind and so feeble that he had to be wheeled to the death chamber. On February 21, a federal judge blocked the execution of Michael Morales due to concerns about the constitutionality of the lethal injection process. A hearing in May is scheduled to determine whether California's procedures for lethal injection pose a significant risk of leaving the prisoner conscious and in pain during executions. (San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2006).
  • San Francisco Voters Back DA's Decision to Not Seek Death Sentence Both city voters and the Bar Association of San Francisco have voiced support for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris' decision to not seek the death penalty in the case against David Hill, who is accused of killing city police officer Isaac Espinoza. A recent poll found that 70% of respondents backed Harris' decision, while only 22% opposed the choice and 8% remained undecided. The poll also found that 65% of those surveyed gave Harris' overall performance as District Attorney favorable marks. Harris ran for office as an opponent of capital punishment. The San Francisco Bar Association also praised Harris' decision to seek a sentence of life without parole for Hill, and members voiced their support for keeping the trial within Harris' domain. The Association cautioned that all district attorneys could see their power of prosecutorial discretion eroded if California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer or federal prosecutors decide to take over the case in order to pursue a capital conviction. (San Francisco Chronicle, May 19, 2004) See Life Without Parole.
  • A recent Field Poll condicted in California found a decline in support for the death penalty in California from the last poll conducted in 2002. Support dropped to 68%. Respondents were also asked if the California death penalty was "fair and free of error," to which only 58% of respondents said "yes." (Associated Press, March 5, 2004)
  • Polls Show 20% Drop in Support for Death Penalty in California According to a Los Angeles Times Poll, support for capital punishment in California has fallen 20% in the past decade, from 78% in 1990 to 58% in 2000. In addition, the poll shows that 48% of residents support a moratorium on the death penalty, while 44% oppose it. (Los Angeles Times, 11/2/00)
  • Californians Support Halting Executions by 4-1 According to a Field Poll, Californians favor stopping state executions by nearly 4 to 1. When asked if they would favor or oppose Gov. Davis halting executions in order to study the fairness of the state's capital punishment system, 73% supported a moratorium. California has the largest death row in the nation with 560 inmates. (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/22/00)
  • A survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California shows that Californians are evenly divided between death and life without parole as the proper punishment for first-degree murder. The survey contrasts with polls that only ask whether respondents favor or oppose the death penalty. Those polls show support of about 3-1 for capital punishment, both state and nationwide. The Public Policy Institute poll gave respondents the two choices a juror in the penalty phase of a capital trial would be given: death or "life imprisonment with absolutely no possibility of parole." Given that choice, 49% chose death , 47% chose life and the rest were undecided. The poll, based on 2,007 randomly chosen Californians, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2%. (Sacramento Bee, 1/18/00).


COLORADO

A recent Colorado poll conducted by RBI Strategies and Research found that 63% of citizens believe that money spent on the death penalty would be better used to close unsolved murder cases. Citizens likely to vote in the next election were told that the death penalty costs the state an extra $3 million per year, and then asked "would you favor or oppose replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, and using the money saved to track down and prosecute the killers in unsolved murder cases?” Forty-three percent were strongly in favor of such a change in spending and another 20% somewhat in favor. Only 27% opposed such a redirection of funds. Interestingly, voters were generally against cutting money from the law enforcement budget to pursue cold cases, but were in favor of cutting the money from death penalty prosecutions. The poll found that Coloradans were evenly split on the proper punishment for murder, with 45% supporting life without parole and the same percentage supporting the death penalty.

Colorado has executed one person in the past 40 years and has one inmate on death row.
(RBI Strategies & Research report, February 2008). Posted April 8, 2008. See the poll results here. See Public Opinion.



CONNECTICUT


A Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut voters found that 48% support the death penalty while 43% favor life without chance of parole.  Responses varied by age, party affiliation and gender. Democrats, women and the young favored life imprisonment over death, while Republicans, men and voters older than age 34 supported the death penalty. (Connecticut Mirror, Mar 10, 2011)

  • 61% of Connecticut residents support the death penalty A Quinnipiac poll of 1,575 registered voters in Connecticut found that 61% of voters support the death penalty. Of those surveyed, 77% of Republicans favored it, while only 50% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with a political party supported it 64%. The gender margin was 68% in favor to 28% for men and 55% to 39% for women. Of those polled who support it, 23% cited "retribution and or fair punishment" and 22% said it should be reserved for the most heinous of crimes. Of those against the death penalty, 23% responded that "no one has the right to take a human life," while 15% feared executing an innocent person and 9% cited religious conviction. (Hartford Courant, May 28, 2009)
  • 63 % of Connecticut residents support the death penalty The poll found that 63 % of the more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed supported the death penalty for convicted murderers, while 27 % were opposed. 3 of every 4 voters said the home invasion did not change their opinions. The percentage of Connecticut residents who support the death penalty has changed little over the past 9 years. The last poll, in January 2005, found that 59 % were in favor of executing convicted murderers. In 2003 and 2001, 60 % favored the death penalty. But when asked whether convicted murderers should receive the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole, 47 % said the death penalty and 44 % said life in prison. Quinnipiac's poll, taken from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 % points. (Associated Press, November 7, 2007)
  • Poll Reveals Continued Support for Alternatives A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted early January, 2005, revealed that 49% of respondents preferred life without parole when offered the alternative to the death penalty. As with previous poll results, 59% of respondents approved of the death penalty "in general" before being presented with the option of life without parole. (Associated Press, January 12, 2005)
  • Connecticut Survey Show Concerns About Innocence; Support for Inmate's Ability to Cancel Appeals A new University of Connecticut poll founs that only 58% of Connecticut citizens "approve of" the death penalty, whereas 32% were at least "somewhat opposed" to the practice. Six out of ten respondents would support an inmate's right to proceed with an execution over the wishes of the inmate's attorney. 58% or respondents said that they would "rather see a guilty man go free than an innocent person be convicted." (New Haven Register, 7/24/03)
  • Connecticut Survey Finds Voters Support Death Penalty Moratorium; Prefer Life in Prison Without Parole A Quinnipiac University Poll found that by a 59-33% margin, voters support a two-year moratorium on executions in Connecticut. Additional poll findings include:
    • Although voters favor the death penalty 60-30%, support is split when respondents are given the sentencing options of life without parole or the death penalty. Given the option, 43% chose life without parole and 42% chose the death penalty
    • 77% of voters oppose the death penalty for those with mental retardation; 12% favor it
    • 62% do not think the death penalty deters others from committing murder
    • voters believe 68-29% that a poor person is more likely than a person with higher income to face the death penalty for the same crime
    • voters believe 55-41% that a black person is more likely than a white person to face the death penalty for the same crime. (Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 4/23/01).
  • Poll Reveals Death Penalty Concerns A Quinnipiac University Poll of Connecticut voters released in June, 2000 found:
    • when given the sentencing option of life without parole or the death penalty, 42% chose life without parole, and 41% chose the death penalty
    • 65% believe a poor person is more likely than a person with higher income to face the death penalty for the same crime
    • 53% believe a black person is more likely than a white person to face the death penalty for the same crime (black voters believe 85 - 8% there is a racial bias, while white voters believe it 51-42%) 90% believe an innocent person has been wrongly convicted sentenced to death in the past 20 years
    • 93% believe post-conviction DNA testing should be available to inmates if such tests might show they were innocent
    • only 58% knew that Connecticut has the death penalty (Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty, Press Release, 1/22/00)
  • A poll of Connecticut residents conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut found the following:
    • 55% don't believe the death penalty is a deterrent to murder
    • nearly 40% believe a black or Hispanic defendant is more likely to be sentenced to death than a white defendant who commits a similar crime, while 51% believe race would have no real effect on the punishment.
    • 30% believe it is likely that Connecticut will execute someone who later is proven innocent. (Associated Press, 1/7/00).


FLORIDA


  • Poll Shows Declining Support for Death Penalty in Florida A Sun-Sentinel poll found that only 45% of Floridians support the death penalty when offered the sentencing option of life in prison without parole, down from 60% last November. In addition, support for life in prison without parole has risen from 16% last year to 28% this year. (Sun Sentinel, 8/7/00)


GEORGIA


  • Georgians Oppose Juvenile Death Penalty A recent University of Georgia poll found that 60% of Georgians favor trying to rehabilitate young criminals rather than executing them. Only 23% of respondents said courts should be allowed to give children the death penalty. In addition, 81% of those polled believe that judges should be granted greater flexibility when dealing with convicted children than the mandatory sentencing rules used for adults. Currently, Georgia law requires juveniles ages 13 to 18-years-old to be tried in adult court and face adult penalties when they are accused of seven violent crimes, such as murder and rape. (The Augusta Chronicle, January 17, 2003).


ILLINOIS


  • Illinois Voters Evenly Split Over Governor's Commutations A Zogby International poll in Illinois found that voters are evenly split about Governor Ryan's blanket clemency for death row inmates. Poll results showed that 47.5% of respondents agreed with Gov. Ryan's decision, while 50.5% disagreed, a statistical tie when the margin of error (4.1%) is taken into account. The poll found that overall support for the death penalty in the state is at 55%, lower than the national average of between 65-70%. Voters were also asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a legislator who supported the abolition movement. The results indicate that 40.8% said that it would not make a difference, 32.8% said that they would be less likely to support such legislators, and 24.3% of respondents said they would be more likely to support such legislators. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, February 6, 2003).
  • Illinois Voters Evenly Split Over Death Row Commutations A St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll reveals that Illinois residents are evenly split when asked whether they agree with the idea of Governor George Ryan commuting all of the state's 160 death sentences to life in prison. The poll found that 49.7% are opposed to the idea, and 45.5% favor Ryan commuting death sentences to life in prison without parole. When the margin of error is taken into account, it means the state's voters are tied statistically. A response to the release of 13 innocent men from Illinois' death row, Ryan's 2-year-old moratorium on executions has enjoyed overwhelming public support. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2002).
  • An October 2002 poll by the Survey Research Center at Illinois Wesleyan University found that support for the death penalty over life without parole as a punishment for murder was at 43%. (Pantagraph, 10/25/02)
  • An August 2002 Zogby International poll of Illinoisians found that 68.3% of respondents support Governor George Ryan's current moratorium on executions, while 26.1% oppose it. Most respondents said the issue was either "important" or "very important" to them in choosing a political candidate. Fewer than one-third of respondents said the issue wasn't important. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 25, 2002).
  • An April 2002 Zogby International poll of likely voters in Illinois found that 64% of respondents support Governor George Ryan's current moratorium on executions. The poll also found that 59% of those questioned agree with limiting the number of crimes that are punishable by death, a recommendation recently made by the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment. In its April report, the Governor-appointed Commission recommended reducing the number of factors that make a crime eligible for a death sentence from 20 to 5. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 29, 2002). See also, Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment.
  • A poll by the Copley News Service found that support for Governor Ryan's moratorium on executions has fallen to 46 from the 81% that approved of it in February 2000, right after Ryan declared the moratorium. Currently, 46% support the halt to executions, while 42% oppose it and 13% are undecided. (Associated Press, 3/16/02)
  • Illinois Poll Finds Strong Support for Death Penalty Reforms; Concerns About Executing the Innocent A poll of Illinois residents by Roper Starch Worldwide found the following:
    • 7 out of 10 Illinois residents approve of Gov. Ryan's decision last year to place a moratorium on executions
    • Three-fourths of Illinois residents are concerned that innocent people have been executed
    • 47% said that given the sentencing choice between the death penalty and life in prison with no chance of parole, they would pick life in prison without parole. Only 33% would choose the death penalty for the crime of murder
    • Nearly 90% favored providing resources to assure a thorough defense
    • 79% favored setting minimum standards for competence and ethics for defense lawyers (Chicago Sun-Times, 1/26/01)
  • Support for Death Penalty Declining in Illinois A poll by the Chicago Tribune shows that support for the death penalty among registered voters in Illinois has fallen to 58%, down from 76% in August 1994 and 63% last year. Also among the poll findings:
    • When given the alternative of life without the possibility of parole, 43% supported the death penalty and 41% favored life without parole.
    • 62% said they favored restrictions on the death penalty unless certain conditions were met.
    • Conditions included requiring the prosecution's case to consist of more than a single eyewitness or accomplice.
    • 66% agree with Governor Ryan's decision to suspend executions while the state's capital punishment system is reviewed. (Chicago Tribune, 3/7/00)
  • According to a poll by the Chicago Tribune, support for the death penalty in Illinois has dropped 13 percentage points in the last five years, and a majority of voters (54%) favors a moratorium on all executions in the state. Fewer than half of the respondents--49%--said they believe the death penalty deters crime. (Chicago Tribune, 3/28/99)


KANSAS


  • The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (KCADP) commissioned Jayhawk Consulting Services to conduct a public opinion poll. 500 people were interviewed for this poll by phone on either January 20 or 21st of 2007. View a video analyzing the poll results. Questions included:
    • The Death Penalty is too arbitrary because some people are executed while others serve prison terms for the same crimes. Agree 57%, Disagree 32%, Not Sure 11%
    • What if convicted murderers in Kansas could be sentenced to life with no chance of parole and also were required to work in prison industrues for money that would go to the families of their victims, would you prefer this as an alternative to the death penalty? Yes 65%, No 24%, Not Sure 11% (KCADP, 2/12/2007).


KENTUCKY


  • New polling results released by the University of Kentucky Survey Center reveal that Kentuckians overwhelmingly choose alternatives over the death penalty as the most appropriate punishment for those convicted of aggravated murder. When asked to select the most appropriate sentencing option from choices currently available to Kentucky jurors serving in capital murder trials, 67% selected sentences other than the death penalty. The first choice among respondents was life without parole. The poll found that while only 30.5% of those polled selected the death penalty, 36.2% chose life without parole, 10.3% selected life with the possibility of parole in 25 years, 5.6% selected life with the possibility of parole in 20 years, and 15.5% chose a 20-50 year prison terms. Since 1997, support for alternatives to the death penalty in Kentucky has steadily increased from 38% in 1997 to over 67% this year. ("Abolition Now," Newsletter of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, December 2006).
  • A poll by the University of Kentucky's Survey Research Center found that 63% of respondents said they strongly favor or somewhat favor legislation that would allow the death penalty only for those 18 years or older; 32% somewhat oppose or strongly oppose such legislation. (The Courier-Journal, 10/25/02)
  • Support for the Death Penalty Declining in Kentucky A survey of attitudes toward the death penalty in Kentucky indicates that the availability of life without the possibility of parole as a sentence in murder cases has dramatically altered support for capital punishment in Kentucky. The survey, conducted by the Urban Studies Institute, Survey Research Center at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, found the following:
    • Support for the death penalty among Kentucky residents dropped from 69.5% in 1989 and 69.1% in 1997 to 59.2% in 1999.
    • When given the choice between the death penalty and life in prison without the possibility of parole, 53.9% of respondents favored life without the possibility of parole for those convicted of murder.
    • Of respondents who said they "strongly supported" the death penalty, 38.2% changed their opinion in favor of life without the possibility of parole when given the sentencing option. (Survey Research Center, University of Louisville, KY, 12/99)
  • A opinion poll in Kentucky replicated what has been shown in state polls around the country: people support the alternative sentence of life without parole over the death penalty. A University of Louisville poll found that 42% supported life without parole, while only 35% supported the death penalty. (KY Courier-Journal, 7/13/97).


LOUISIANA


  • Louisiana Residents Overwhelmingly Support Moratorium A recent poll in Louisiana found that 81% of Louisiana residents favor a moratorium on executions while the state's capital punishment system is studied. In addition 55% of respondents said they would be more likely to re-elect a legislator who voted for a moratorium; 16% said they would be less likely and the remainder said it would not make a difference. Currently, the Louisiana Senate is considering a bill that would halt executions until September 1, 2001 and establish the Louisiana Death Sentence Study Commission. (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/29/01)


MARYLAND


  • A recent Washington Post opinion poll found that Marylanders prefer the sentence of life in prison over the death penalty. In the October 2007 poll of 1,103 Maryland adults, respondents were asked to choose between the sentence of life in prison without parole or the death penalty for the crime of murder: 52% said they favored life without parole and 43% supported capital punishment. Among black respondents, support for life without parole was even stronger, with 65% responding that they preferred the sentence of life in prison and only 29% choosing the death penalty. According to the Washington Post, support for capital punishment in theory stands at 60%, but Marylanders hold nuanced views on the issue and are shifting away from the death penalty. Carla Hosford of Chevy Chase noted, "If we kill and they kill, who has learned anything?" In the coming year, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and others who oppose capital punishment are expected to continue efforts to abolish the death penalty in the state. Last year, a national Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed a similar shift nationally. The poll found that Americans are almost evenly split when given the two sentencing options, with 50% favoring the death penalty and 46% preferring life without parole. (Washington Post, October 26, 2007).
  • According to a recent Maryland poll, a large majority of voters in the state support replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., found that 61% of those surveyed believe that the sentence of life without the possibility of parole is "an acceptable substitute for the death penalty." Only 27% of respondents disagreed. Support for life without parole in Maryland has jumped nearly 20 percentage points in less than a decade. Six years ago in a comparable poll, only 43% supported life without parole. The poll was commissioned by the Maryland Catholic Conference, and it was released as Maryland legislators are considering a bill to replace the state's death penalty with a sentence of life without parole. The poll found that legislators who support the repeal measure will face no repercussions among voters. Of those polled, 71% said that they would either be more likely to support a legislator who voted for the ban (29%) or it would not impact their vote (42%). "Clearly, the voters realize that the system needs to be reformed and they will support their legislators who decide it makes the most sense to end the death penalty," said Dick Dowling, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. The Conference noted that the polling results reflect a growing discomfort with the death penalty due to concerns about problems such as wrongful convictions. (Maryland Catholic Conference Press Release, "Maryland Voters Support Life Without Parole as Replacement for the Death Penalty by More Than 2-to-1 Margin," February 28, 2007).
  • Poll Finds Tepid Support for Death Penalty as State Sets Execution Date As Maryland Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt signed a death warrant scheduling the execution of Heath W. Burch for the week of December 6, a Potomac Inc. poll of state residents revealed that only 53% support capital punishment. Burch has been on death row since 1996 and would be the first person since 1953 to be executed for a crime committed in Prince George's County. Experts predict that his execution would be met with resistance from county residents, 50% of whom oppose capital punishment according to the Potomac Inc. poll. Judge Platt also granted Burch a 30-day stay of execution to provide his attorneys with time to file an appeal that they state will be based on a University of Maryland study that showed death sentences are imposed more often when the victims are white. Burch, a black man, was convicted of murdering an elderly white couple. Earlier in 2004, Maryland carried out the execution of Steven Oken, the first person to be executed by the state since 1998. (The Washington Post, October 22, 2004) See Race.
  • Maryland Support for Death Penalty Down A Potomac Research, Inc. poll on crime performed in Maryland in March 2004 asked 1,200 participants "Do you favor or oppose the death penalty?" The overall statewide response was 53% in favor, 34% opposed, with 11% replying "depending upon the situation." This represents a significant decline from the Gonzales poll of 2001, when support was at 62%. In some counties, support was even less: Montgomery County reported 43% support; Baltimore 42%; and Prince George's County 36%. Only one other death penalty question was addressed: asked if they favored the death penalty for juveniles involved in particularly horrible murders (the Lee Malvo case was cited), participants were evenly split, 43% in favor, 43% opposed. (Washington Post, October 22, 2004)
  • Maryland Split on Support for Death Penalty A Maryland poll by Potomac Inc., found that 45% of Marylanders favored a moratorium on the death penalty while the a state commission studies whether the death penalty is handed out fairly; 47% opposed the moratorium and 9% were not sure. (Maryland Poll by Potomac Inc., 1/2-4/02)
  • A Gonzales/Arscott Research & Communications poll in Maryland found support for the death penalty at 62%, slightly below the national level as reported by Gallup (67% in March 2001). Support dropped further -- to 45% -- when respondents were given the choice between the death penalty and life without parole as the more appropriate punishment for murder. The poll also found that Marylanders overwhelmingly favor DNA testing for inmates if it is possible that the test would show their innocence; 89% supported testing and only 7% were opposed. (Washington Post, 5/24/01).


MASSACHUSETTS


  • Poll Shows Declining Support for the Death Penalty in Massachusetts A Boston Globe / WBZ-TV poll in April 2003 showed that only 53% of those surveyed supported capital punishment against 41% opposed to the practice. This is a significant decline from the 1996 poll which found 65% in favor of the death penalty, with only 26% opposed. (Boston Globe, April, 2003; September 23, 2003).


MICHIGAN


  • Support Strong for Life Without Parole While 56% of Michigan voters said they would support the death penalty, that support dropped to 45% when those same voters were informed of Michigan's "life without parole" law. The issue was raised when an amendment was introduced to reinstate the death penalty in Michigan, which was the first English-speaking government to abolish the practice in 1846. Life without parole was preferred by 44%, with 11% undecided. The Poll was conducted by EPIC/MRA in February 2004. (Associated Press, March 1, 2004)
  • Poll Shows Declining Death Penalty Support in Michigan A poll by the Detroit Free Press found that support to repeal Michigan's 155-year-old ban on the death penalty had fallen to 55%, down from 70% in the early 1990s. The poll also found that when respondents were offered the choice between the death penalty and mandatory life imprisonment plus restitution to the victim's family, support for the death penalty dropped to 35%, with 53% favoring life. (Detroit Free Press, 5/19/01)
  • A Michigan poll indicates that support for the death penalty is declining and the majority of residents (56%) would prefer a life sentence and payment to victims' families instead of the death penalty (33%). The poll was conducted by EPIC/MRA. Pollster Ed Sarpolus said: "It's the lowest support for the death penalty I've seen." Michigan's House of Representatives overwhelmingly defeated a resolution recently to restore the death penalty. (The Flint Journal, 5/1/99).


MINNESOTA


  • Support for Death Penalty Declining in Minnesota A statewide poll by the Star Tribune Minnesota found that support for the death penalty in Minnesota has fallen to 57%, down from 73% in 1996. In addition, the new poll shows in increase in opposition to the death penalty with 33% of Minnesotans now opposing the death penalty, up from the 22% that opposed executions in 1996. Minnesota is one of twelve states plus the District of Columbia that do not have the death penalty. (Star Tribune Minnesota, 3/20/00).


MISSOURI


  • A Zogby International poll found that 66.3% of respondents support the death penalty and 31.1% oppose it, in line with national numbers. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, February 6, 2003).
  • A poll of Missourians' opinions about the death penalty, taken by the Center for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research, Southwest Missouri State University, was released December 6. The results include:
    • only 46% support the death penalty when offered an option of life with no parole plus restitution
    • 56% expressed a willingness to support a three-year moratorium on executions to investigate sentencing practices and effects
    • only 35% said they would be less likely to vote for a state legislator if that legislator voted against the death penalty. Nearly half of the remainder (43%) said their vote would not be affected, while 22% said they would be more likely to vote for such a legislator (Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, Press Release 12/7/99).


NEW HAMPSHIRE


  • Abolition of New Hampshire Death Penalty Supported by Judiciary Committee and Residents As the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-1 to recommend that the state's death penalty law be repealed, a new poll by Northeastern University found that 55% of New Hampshire residents support abolition of the state's death penalty, 35% oppose it, and 10% are undecided. The poll, released on May 8, also shows that 78% of residents believe the death penalty is too arbitrary, and 60% believe it is better to put murderers in prison for life than to risk executing an innocent person. The bill recommended by the Judiciary Committee would eliminate executions as a sentencing option and replace it with life in prison without parole. In March, the House approved the bill 191-163. (Associated Press, 5/8/00 and 5/5/00).


NEW JERSEY


  • A May 2002 poll of residents in New Jersey conducted by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University revealed that support for the death penalty has dropped considerably in the state, and that the majority of residents support a moratorium on executions until issues of accuracy, fairness and cost effectiveness can be examined. The following are among the poll's key findings:
    • When given the option of life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing alternative, 48% of New Jerseyans support a life sentence, while 36% support capital punishment. This is a reversal from 1999 polling results that showed that 44% of New Jerseyans then supported capital punishment and 37% favored life imprisonment when given the choice.
    • Six in 10 New Jerseyans support a moratorium on executions while the state's death penalty statues are reviewed.
    • A quarter of those surveyed say that they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a moratorium, while only 7% of those surveyed would be less likely to support him or her.
The New Jersey legislature is currently considering a bill that would create a one-year moratorium on executions while a Commission investigates potential flaws in the state's death penalty system.
  • A Star Ledger/Eagleton Poll has found that 63% of New Jersey residents favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. This is a drop from the 72% who favored the death penalty when polled in 1994. Moreover, when asked to choose between the death penalty and a guaranteed "life in prison with absolutely no possibility of parole," support fell to 44%. By a margin of 56% to 37%, far more agree than disagree that a poor person is more likely than someone else to receive the death penalty for the same crime. Forty-two percent also agree that a black person is more likely than a white person to receive the death penalty for the same crime. (The Star Ledger/Eagleton Poll press release 10/10/99, and Associated Press 10/10/99).


NEW MEXICO


  • Life Without Parole Gains Support in New Mexico A recent poll of New Mexico voters revealed that a growing number of voters favor the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole over the death penalty for capital crimes. Polling data revealed that 43% of respondents favored repealing the death penalty when given the sentencing option of life without the possibility of parole and 48% still supported the death penalty. This number represents a significant shift from a 1999 poll that found 39% of respondents in favor of repealing the death penalty when given the sentencing option of life without parole and 54% in favor of retaining the death penalty. (Santa Fe New Mexican, October 4, 2002).


NEW YORK


  • Most New Yorkers would choose a sentence of life without parole (LWOP) over the death penalty for those convicted of murder. In a recent poll published in Newsday, 53% of N.Y. adults said LWOP is the better penalty, whereas only 38% chose the death penalty, with 9% uncertain. New York's death penalty was found unconstitutional by the state's highest court in 2004. The legislature elected not to modify the statute. (Source: Blum and Weprin Associates / Newsday - Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,457 New York adults, conducted from Feb. 26 to Mar. 5, 2006; Angus Reid Global Scan, March 11, 2006).
  • New Yorkers Favor Life Without Parole Over Death Penalty - A Quinnipiac University poll revealed that when New Yorkers were given the sentencing option of life without parole in capital cases, 53% of respondents chose life without parole and only 38% favored the death penalty. Nationally, Americans are about evenly split: the poll found that 48% of Americans who were asked the same question would favor the death penalty and 44% would prefer life without parole. (New York Law Journal, March 19, 2003)
  • Voters in New York's Capital Favor Life Without Parole as Alternative to the Death Penalty - In March 2002, Zogby International surveyed registered voters in Albany County, the seat of the location of New York's capital. The poll found that 55% of respondents support capital punishment in cases where people are convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. When offered the alternative of sentencing convicted murderers to life in prison with absolutely no chance of being released on parole, 67% said they preferred this alternative; 27% preferred the death penalty. (Zogby International, 3/25/02)
  • In a poll taken after N.Y.'s first death sentence since the passage of its death penalty law in 1995, most New Yorkers favored life sentences for 1st degree murder rather than the death penalty: 38% chose the death penalty, 44% opted for life without parole, and 9% preferred life with a chance of parole as the appropriate sentence. (Quinnipiac College Poll, Assoc. Press, 6/17/98)
  • A New York poll again confirms that more people would prefer the sentence of life without parole than the death penalty for those convicted of 1st degree murder. 44% supported LWOP while only 38% supported a death sentence. A majority of New Yorkers believe the death penalty has no effect on preventing murders. (NY Post, 3/27/98).
  • Only 37 percent of New York voters support the death penalty, compared to 45 percent who favor life in prison with no chance of parole according to the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute in a press release, September 24, 1997. Another 12 percent of New Yorkers favor life in prison with a chance of parole, yielding a total of 57 percent for non-death penalty options. By a 28-66 percent margin, New Yorkers do not think the death penalty has made the State safer since it was adopted in 1995. The Quinnipiac Poll is among the most widely cited polls in the New York area. In New York City, only 28% favored the death penalty. (Press Release, Quinnipiac College Polling Institute, 9/24/97).


NORTH CAROLINA


  • More than two-thirds of North Carolinians believe executions should be halted in the wake of the SBI scandal, 58% percent believe a finding of racial bias should prohibit an execution, and more than two-thirds are willing to consider ending the death penalty due to the high cost of capital punishment.  Sixty-eight percent of people surveyed said executions should be halted until problems with blood tests at the State Bureau of Investigation are fully investigated.  Fifty-eight percent said defendants should not be executed if a judge finds that racial bias played a role in their trials.  Sixty-four percent of respondents supported replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole or were not sure whether it was a good idea to continue using the death penalty in light of the more than 11 million dollar per year extra cost of the death penalty. (Fair Trial Initiative, Press Release 12/13/2010).
  • Death Penalty Support Continues to Wane in North Carolina The Elon Poll found that between 2005 and 2007 the percentage of North Carolinians polled who believe that the death penalty was the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder dropped from 61 to 48 percent. A poll conducted by Elon University in 2009 showed that the percentage of those supporting the death penalty as the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder remained at the lower percentage. (The News and Observer, March 5, 2009)
  • Death Penalty Support Wanes in North Carolina The poll found that 58 percent of adults support the death penalty, but only 48 percent said it's always the most appropriate punishment for those convicted of first-degree murder, according to researchers at ElonUniversity. Another 10 percent said the sentence depends on the circumstances.

    About 38 percent of respondents said they believe life in prison is the most appropriate sentence for murderers.

    Those numbers indicated a significant shift from a November 2005 poll that showed nearly two-thirds of adults supported the death penalty, and 61 percent said it was always the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder. Just 27 percent preferred life in prison (Herald Sun, April 24, 2007).
  • North Carolinians Support Death Penalty Moratorium An April 2004 poll of North Carolinians revealed that 63% of respondents support a halt to executions while the state's death penalty is studied, and many respondents have doubts about the accuracy of the death penalty. "Support for the two-year suspension of executions is widespread and cuts across all demographic groups, regions of the state and political party affiliation. This is clearly an issue that resonates with the people of North Carolina," stated John Doble, founder of Doble Research Associations, the national non-partisan firm that conducted the poll. In addition to support for a moratorium, the poll found that 71% of respondents believed that North Carolina definitely or probably freed someone from death row in the last 20 years because he was innocent, and 56% of respondents believed that the state has probably executed an innocent person during the past two decades. While the majority (59%) of those polled favored the death penalty, this number dropped to 33% when respondents were given the sentencing option of life without parole; and it fell even further - to 26% - when they were given the option of life without parole plus restitution to the victims' family. Regarding elections, 59% said that it would make no difference in their vote if a candidate for the legislature supported a moratorium bill. In fact, 24% said that they would be more likely to support a candidate who supported the temporary halt to executions, and only 12% said that they would be less likely to support that same candidate. The North Carolina Senate passed a bill to impose a moratorium on executions while a study is conducted, and the measure is currently under consideration in the House. The measure would be the nation's first moratorium passed into law by a state legislature. (North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium Press Release, May 17, 2004). Read the Press Release.
  • North Carolina Poll Reveals Support for Moratorium on Executions An Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs poll of North Carolinians found that 41% support a proposed 2-year moratorium on executions to allow time to examine problems that could result in the execution of an innocent person. Although 62% of those surveyed said they support the death penalty, only 38% opposed a moratorium and the remaining 21% of respondents were undecided. The North Carolina Senate passed a moratorium measure in 2003, and the House is expected to take up the same legislation when it reconvenes in 2004. (WRAL news, November 23, 2003) See Innocence.
  • Support for Death Penalty in North Carolina Drops Below 50% A recent North Carolina public opinion poll conducted for The News & Observer found that only 49% of voters polled approve of executions for those convicted of first-degree murder while 42% favor life in prison without parole as the punishment. Nine percent were unsure. The same poll registered 40% of respondents in support of a moratorium on executions and 53% in opposition to halting executions for two years while the state studies and fixes possible flaws in its death penalty system. State Representative Paul Luebke, who supports a moratorium, noted, "It's clear that support for the death penalty is not that strong in North Carolina." The North Carolina Senate in April approved a two-year moratorium bill, which the House will consider in May 2004. (The News & Observer, September 19, 2003)
  • Poll Reveals that Carolinians Favor Death Penalty Moratorium An August 2003 Charlotte Observer/NBC-6 poll revealed that nearly half of those surveyed in North and South Carolina say the states should pause executions until the death penalty system is deemed fair. Of the 908 respondents, 48% voiced support for a moratorium on executions and 41% were opposed. While men were about equally split on the question, 50% of women favored a moratorium and 35% opposed it. Among African American respondents, 67% favored a moratorium, while 42% of white respondents said that they would support halting executions. (Charlotte Observer, September 13, 2003)
  • North Carolinians Strongly Favor Death Penalty Moratorium; Oppose Execution of Mentally Retarded A recent poll of North Carolinians found that 70% of respondents support a moratorium on executions in the state. The poll, released by the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, found that 65.4% prefer life without parole for persons with mental retardation - a measure recently passed by the state Senate and currently pending before the House. The poll also found that 66.8% think innocent people have been sentenced to death or executed in North Carolina in the past 25 years. (North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, Press Release, 6/29/01) Read NCATL's press release.
  • North Carolinians Support Moratorium The North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers called for a halt to executions until questions about the fairness of capital punishment could be resolved. The academy released a poll that found only 2 in 5 North Carolina voters are confident that the death penalty is applied fairly. The poll found that 59% favored a moratorium on executions until issues concerning fairness could be studied. (Charlotte Observer, 9/13/00)
  • Less than Half of Carolinians Prefer the Death Penalty; Majority Support Moratorium A July poll of Carolinians by the Charlotte Observer-MBTV News Carolinas Poll found:
    • Only 45% preferred the death penalty as the appropriate penalty for those convicted of murder.
    • 62% said they favored a moratorium of executions until it is determined that the death penalty is fair.
    • 64% think that the Carolinas should exempt those with mental retardation from the death penalty. (Charlotte Observer 9/9/00)


OHIO


A May 14 poll by Quinnipiac University found that:

When offered a choice, 43 percent of voters favor the death penalty and 40 percent favor life in prison with no chance of parole, while 9 percent favor life in prison with a chance of parole, a total of 49 percent for the two life options.

"Ohioans overwhelmingly support capital punishment, but the option of life in prison without parole tips the balance against the death penalty," said Brown.

From May 7 - 12, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,174 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.


  • A 2014 Quinnipiac Poll Shows more support for death penalty alternatives
    • When offered alternatives to the death penalty, at total of 48% Ohioans chose the punishment of life without parole (36%) or life in prison with the possibility of parole (12%); only 47% preferred the death penalty
    • If no alternatives were offered, 68% favored the death penalty and 26% opposed it. (Press release, Feb. 19, 2014; poll of 1,370 voters; +/-2.7 margin of error)
  • Ohio Poll Shows Preference for Life in Prison Without Parole; DNA Testing Although a majority of Ohioans continue to support the death penalty, a Buckeye State Poll, conducted by the Ohio State University, found the following:
    • 46% would prefer life in prison without the possibility of parole as an alternative to the death penalty for first degree murderers
    • 95% think that states should permit DNA testing in all cases
    • 51% think it is likely or very likely that an innocent person can be wrongly convicted and executed. (The Columbus Dispatch, 8/6/00)
  • In an Ohio State University poll released October 1, 1997, 59% of Ohioans said they would support a life without parole sentence plus mandatory restitution as an alternative to the death penalty. 31% were not in support of this alternative. 46% of the respondents thought it likely that an innocent person could be convicted and executed.
  • Ohioans think wrongful executions are "likely" and support alternatives to the death penalty
    • 68% of Ohioans reported that the likelihood of an innocent person being wrongly convicted and executed was either somewhat likely or very likely. This is an increase since the 1997 poll in which 46% reported that an innocent person might be wrongly convicted and executed.
    • 57% of those polled support, as an alternative to the death penalty, a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years and that the inmate be required to work in prison industry for money that would go to the victim's family. (Survey Research Center at Ohio State University, Press Release 11/19/99).


OKLAHOMA


  • Oklahomans Support Ban on Execution of Juvenile Offenders A recent poll of Oklahoma residents revealed that 62.8% of those surveyed would support a legislative ban on the execution of juvenile offenders if the alternative sentencing option of life without the possibility of parole were offered. The polling results were released shortly before Oklahoma carried out the execution of a juvenile offender, Scott Allen Hain. (The Oklahoman, April 3, 2003) The University of Oklahoma poll also found that 49.3% of those polled favored a moratorium on executions in the state so that a study of capital punishment can be done, and 83.5% of respondents either somewhat agree or strongly agree that the state has probably executed an innocent person. See Juvenile Death Penalty.
  • Poll Shows Mistakes Shake Oklahomans' Confidence in Justice System A recent poll by Oklahoma University found that 57% of Oklahomans were less confident in the criminal justice system because of mistakes made by the state's police lab and the FBI's errors in handling the Timothy McVeigh case. Jeff Pierce, who had been convicted on the basis of police chemist Joyce Gilchrist's inaccurate testimony was recently exonerated by DNA testing. The poll also found:
    • 73% think Pierce is not the only innocent person who has been sent to prison.
    • 2% believe an innocent person has already been executed.
    • Over 25% think innocent people get railroaded by police or prosecutors. (The Oklahoman, 5/27/01)
  • Oklahomans Split on Moratorium A Tulsa World poll found that 41% of Oklahomans said that they agreed with Oklahoma religious leaders, who have been calling for a 5-year moratorium on the death penalty, and would support a moratorium; 49% said they opposed it. The poll also found that when asked if the death penalty is a deterrent to criminals not on death row, 63% said they somewhat or strongly agreed that it is, 37% said they strongly agreed and 26% somewhat agreed; 33% somewhat or strongly disagreed. In addition, 27% somewhat or strongly disagreed that regardless of whether the death penalty was a deterrent, it was the right thing to do; 44% strongly agreed it was the right thing to do, and 22% agreed that it was the right thing to do. (Tulsa World, 1/9/01)


Oregon


  • Poll Shows Oregonians Still Support Capital Punishment A February poll of Oregonians by OPB found:
    • 57% favor the death penalty for some crimes; 39% oppose it, 4% say they don't know (OPB 2/1/12)


PENNSYLVANIA


  • Death Penalty Supporters in the Minority in PA A recent poll administered by the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg revealed that more Pennsylvanians prefer a life sentence over the death penalty for those convicted of murder. The poll found that only 42.9% of respondents chose the death penalty when also given the sentencing options of life with parole and life without parole. A total of 45% of respondents chose either life-without-parole (35.5%) or the sentence of life-with-parole (9.6%). Larry Frankel, legislative director for the ACLU, cited Pennsylvania's six death-row exonerations compared with three executions since 1976 as "proof the system doesn't work all the time." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 10, 2007). Additional information about the poll may be found at http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/PennStatePollDPresults.pdf
  • Pennsylvania Poll Finds Support for a Moratorium A recent poll of Pennsylvanians found that 72% favor suspending the death penalty until questions about its fairness can be studied. The poll also found:
    • 67% support a sentence of life in prison without parole as an alternative to the death penalty
    • 69% agreed that the poor are more likely than the wealthy to be executed
    • 51% agreed that blacks are more likely than whites to be executed
    • very few voters (10%) have ever voted for a candidate based on the death penalty issue
    • 71% favor the death penalty, consistent with national figures (Madonna Yost Opinion Research, March 2001) Read the Press Release.


SOUTH CAROLINA


  • Less than Half of Carolinians Prefer the Death Penalty; Majority Support Moratorium A July poll of Carolinians by the Charlotte Observer-MBTV News Carolinas Poll found:
    • Only 45% preferred the death penalty as the appropriate penalty for those convicted of murder.
    • 62% said they favored a moratorium of executions until it is determined that the death penalty is fair.
    • 64% think that the Carolinas should exempt those with mental retardation from the death penalty. (Charlotte Observer 9/9/00)


SOUTH DAKOTA


  • 61% of citizens in South Dakota back death penalty; Support reflects national rate for a punishment not used in the state since 1947. South Dakotans don't agree on the death penalty or even that it's the ultimate punishment for a crime. But most seem to think that the state ought to have the option of putting a criminal to death, according to a recent Argus Leader poll. That public opinion poll showed that 61 % of South Dakotans support capital punishment by lethal injection, while 26 % oppose it. The other 13 % said they weren't sure. (Argus Leader: November 5, 2006)


TEXAS


  • Wrongful Convictions Texans continue to support the death penalty even though most believe the state wrongly convicts people from time to time.

    Nearly three-quarters of Texas voters support the death penalty for people convicted of violent crimes, and 46 percent said they strongly support it. Twenty percent oppose the death penalty, half of them strongly.

    At the same time, only 2 percent said people are “never” wrongly convicted, another 27 percent said people are “almost never” wrongly convicted, and 49 percent said that “occasionally happens.” About one in eight said wrongful death penalty convictions take place “a great deal of the time.”  (Texas Tribune, November 8, 2013).
  • The Death Penalty in Texas About 70 percent of Texans support the death penalty, and 49 percent strongly support it. About a quarter of Texans oppose the death penalty, 15 percent strongly so. The pollsters said support for death penalty appears to have diminished slightly from previous surveys, and they speculated that recent reports of judicial errors may have played a role (Star-Telegram, June 14, 2007).
  • Texans Support Option of Life Without Parole, Question Accuracy of Death Penalty A Winter 2003 Texas Poll found that although a majority of Texans support the death penalty, 72% of respondents said they would like juries to be given the sentencing option in capital cases of life wihtout parole. The poll also shows that 69% of respondents believe the state has executed innocent people. (Dallas Morning News, March 16, 2003)A Winter 2003 Texas Poll found that although a majority of Texans support the death penalty, 72% of respondents said they would like juries to be given the sentencing option in capital cases of life wihtout parole. The poll also shows that 69% of respondents believe the state has executed innocent people. (Dallas Morning News, March 16, 2003)
  • Texans Question Accuracy of Death Penalty, Support Life Without Parole A Texas poll revealed that approximately 40% of Texans would support a moratorium on executions while a study is conducted to review the fairness of the state's death penalty policies. The poll also found that 66% of residents in the state believe that an innocent person has been wrongfully executed in Texas. Nearly three-quarters of residents favor changing the state's existing law to allow life in prison without parole, and just 51% favor the law that allows executing an inmate who committed capital murder at age 17. (Austin American-Statesman, June 22, 2002).
  • Texas Voters Prefer Life Sentence for Andrea Yates A Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll found that most voters in Harris County, Texas don't support the death penalty for Andrea Yates. Although prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Yates, the poll found that 57.3% of respondents said she should receive a life sentence; only 19.4% favored the death penalty. Yates has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two charges of capital murder in the death of children. (Houston Chronicle, 11/14/01)
  • Texans Believe State Has Executed Innocent People A Scripps-Howard poll in Texas found that 65% of those surveyed believe that the state of Texas has executed an innocent person. The belief in wrongful executions has gone up since June 2000, when 57% said an innocent person had been executed. The poll also found that a majority of Texans support reform issues that are currently being considered by the legislature:
    • 85% believe that inmates should have access to free DNA testing if it may prove their innocence
    • 71% favor changing state law to include the sentencing option of life without parole
    • 66% are opposed to the state executing an inmate who has mental retardation. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/1/01).
  • Poll Reveals Death Penalty Concerns A Houston Chronicle poll of residents of Harris County, Texas, found that although more people are sentenced to death in Harris County than any other Texas county, citizens of Harris proved less supportive of the death penalty than other Texans. Poll director Richard Murray said the findings show a gradual waning of support for capital punishment. The poll also found:
    • 67% thought it was somewhat or very likely that an innocent person has been executed in this country since the punishment was resumed; 59% found it at least somewhat likely that such a mistake had been made in Texas
    • almost 1/2 expressed concern that capital punishment was not applied fairly to all ethnic or racial groups
    • 67% supported giving juries the option to sentence capital murderers to life without parole, a measure that soon will be put before the Texas legislature
    • 62% support capital punishment, a figure closer to the national average than the 69% that support it from the other Texas counties (Houston Chronicle, 1/4/01)
  • Texans Believe State has Executed the Innocent A Scripps-Howard Poll found that 57% of Texans surveyed believe Texas has executed someone who was innocent of the crime, and 3 out of 4 respondents said the state should declare a moratorium on death sentences in cases that might be affected by DNA testing. Survey results also show that while 81% of whites support capital punishment, support drops to 55% among Hispanics and 44% among blacks. (Houston Chronicle, 6/21/00)
  • A Scripps Howard News Poll in Texas reports that support for the death penalty in that state has dropped to its lowest in three decades. Support for the death penalty dropped to 68%, 18 percentage points lower than in 1994, when it was 86%. Opposition to the death penalty has grown by over 250%, from 7% in 1994 to 26% currently. A large majority of 72% favored changing Texas law to include a sentence of life without parole. Only about half of Texans believe the death penalty helps prevent crime. The poll had a margin of error of 3%. (Houston Chronicle, 3/15/98).
  • A poll released by the Dallas Morning News (1/22/98) revealed that the majority of Texans are uncertain about executing Karla Faye Tucker. 33% said they didn't know whether she should be executed or serve life in prison and another 22% said her sentence should be commuted. Only 45% supported the death penalty for Ms. Tucker, despite the fact that 75% say they support the death penalty in theory. See also, women and the death penalty.
  • A poll in Texas showed that only a bare majority (53%) support the death penalty if the death row inmate has "shown signs of turning his or her life around." (The Texas Poll, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, 1/14/99)

VIRGINIA

  • On eve of execution, Virginians broadly support penalty Virginia voters favor the death penalty by a better than 2 to 1 margin, with 66 % supportive of it, 31 % opposed. And intensity on this issue is with the supporters: 45 % "strongly" back capital punishment, 18 % are that solidly opposed. But in Northern Virginia - site of several shootings by Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo - a smaller majority of 56 % backs the death penalty, compared with 71 % in the rest of the state. Support for capital punishment has dipped since it was a centerpiece issue in the 2005 gubernatorial campaign. Just before that vote, 72 % of likely voters statewide said they favored the death penalty, 30 % opposed it. In the new poll, Republicans (82 % support) and independents (69 %) are more apt to favor the death penalty than are Democrats (45 %). Support for capital punishment is also far higher among men than women (73 to 60 %), with the gender gap sharpest among political independents (77 % of independent men back the punishment compared with 57 % of independent women). There is a wide racial gap in support for the death penalty. Among whites, 72 % support it while a majority of African Americans (56 %) oppose it. And younger voters (59 % among those under age 35) are less supportive than older voters (68 % among those 35-64 and 67 % among seniors). (Washington Post, 11/10/09)
     
  • Virginians in Favor of Alternatives to the Death Penalty; Disagree with "21-day rule" The 2001 poll of Virginians show that support for the death penalty fell to under 70% (69.5%) and opposition to the death penalty rose to 25.2%. In addition, when respondents were given the alternative sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole, support for the death penalty dropped to 45.2%, with 50% supporting life without parole. The poll also asked whether respondents agreed with Virginia's 21- Day Rule, which allows someone sentenced to death or any felony 21 days to introduce any newly discovered evidence in court. 15.8% agreed with this law, while 82.7% disagreed. Compared with the same question asked in 1997, those who disagree increased over 10%. (Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP), 5/13/02) See also, VADP - Virginia Poll Results
  • Majority Supports Moratorium in Virginia A Richmond Times-Dispatch/News-Channel 10 poll found that 58% of Virginians favor a moratorium on executions until issues surrounding the death penalty can be resolved. The poll also found that 91% favored allowing DNA testing for death row inmates to establish guilt or innocence when DNA was unavailable at trial. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/6/00)
  • Annual Survey Results Once Again Show Virginians in Favor of Alternatives to the Death Penalty
    Survey results from the Quality of Life in Virginia Poll show that support for Virginia's death penalty has dropped. When surveyors asked 514 respondents if they supported the death penalty, 74% agreed. This is the lowest percentage to respond in favor of the death penalty in 7 years. For the 7th consecutive year, results also show that Virginians prefer alternatives to the death penalty. When asked about the alternative of life with no possibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years combined with restitution for the victims families, 54.8% agreed with the alternative and 40.5% disagreed. (Press release, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, 8/13/99)
  • The Center for Survey Research at Virginia Tech reports that 57% of Virginians supports the alternative to the death penalty of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years plus restitution to the victim's family. Over 72% of those polled opposed Virginia's law which prevents the accused from introducing new evidence of innocence 21 days after trial. (Quality of Life in VA Survey, 1997).


WISCONSIN


  • In a Marquette University Law School Poll, 50.5 percent of Wisconsinites oppose capital punishment for convicted murderers, while 46.6 percent support it.  “Support for capital punishment is starting to taper,” says Wheelock, noting that the decline in support for the death penalty in Wisconsin corresponds to increasing opposition to executions nationally.  (The Capital Times, August 21, 2013)
  • In a University of Wisconsin Badger Poll, more respondents favored a sentence of life without parole rather than the death penalty. Only 45% supported capital punishment, while 50% favored life sentences. When asked about the death penalty in theory, without any alternative sentences mentioned, 55.6% of Wisconsinites polled favored capital punishment for "cases involving a person who is convicted of first degree intentional homicides, if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence." In a non-binding November referendum, voters will consider the reinstatement of the death penalty in the state. The Badger Poll questioned 508 persons and has a margin of error of +/-4%. (Badger Poll Release, July 17, 2006).