New Poll Shows Americans Oppose Death Penalty for Mentally Ill People


A new nationwide poll released on Monday found that Americans oppose the death penalty for people with mental illness by a 2-1 margin.

These results are consistent with the results of other polls in recent years that show declining support for the death penalty in America.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they opposed the death penalty for persons with mental illness, while only 28 percent favored it. Opposition was consistent across all regions of the country and across all major political parties, with a majority of Democrats (62 percent), Republicans (59 percent), and Independents (51 percent) all indicating they opposed the death penalty for the mentally ill.

Opposition to the death penalty for persons with mental illness was also strong across both genders, and all income and education levels.

The survey of 943 registered voters was conducted by Public Policy Polling on November 24-25, 2014, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1. The survey was commissioned by Robert Smith, an assistant professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Today’s important polling is part of significant new research which clearly shows an emerging consensus against using capital punishment in cases where the defendant is mentally ill,” said Professor Smith. “The poll joins other new data demonstrating that sentencing trends are down across the country for death-eligible defendants with severe mental illness.”