Death Penalty Support Reaches 45-Year Low


Source: Pew Research Center

Fewer Americans support the death penalty today than at any other point in the past 45 years.

Less than half of Americans (49 percent) say they support capital punishment, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted August 23 through September 2. That number has dropped 7 percent since March 2015.

Pew reports that public support for the death penalty peaked in the mid-1990s. Opposition to capital punishment is now the highest it has been since 1972.

Support for capital punishment has dropped nationwide as violent crime rates continue to fall and taxpayer concerns over costs persist. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty, including six states since 2007, and this fall, California voters will decide whether to repeal capital punishment.

In addition, four states have imposed a moratorium on executions. Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court held that Florida’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional, and the Delaware Supreme Court struck down its death penalty this summer.

States that have been heavy users of capital punishment in the past have seen dramatic declines in death sentencing. Texas juries imposed only two new death sentences in 2015, which was the fewest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.  In Georgia, the last time a jury imposed the death penalty was in March 2014.

Less than half of Americans now say they support capital punishment.