A new poll by ABC News and the Washington Post finds that a majority of Americans favor life without parole over the death penalty for convicted murderers.
Given a choice between the two options, 52 percent pick life in prison as the preferred punishment, while 42 percent favor the death penalty – the fewest in polls dating back 15 years, ABC News reports. This is a first-time finding in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, although other polling has long shown majority support for alternatives to the death penalty.
Without an alternative sentence offered, support for the death penalty was 61 percent, equaling the lowest level of support in polls going back to the early 1980s, and showing a significant drop since support for the death penalty peaked at 80 percent in 1994.
In states that do not have capital punishment, respondents were even more likely to prefer life without parole (58%), with only 38% selecting the death penalty. Among the groups that had stronger than average support for life without parole were women (57%), nonwhites (65%), and Democrats (67%).