Growing Number of Americans Believe Death Penalty Is Unfair and Overused


Gallup reported last week that the percentage of Americans who believe the death penalty is applied fairly fell to its lowest-ever point this year. Fewer than half of Americans (49 percent) now say capital punishment is applied fairly, and 29 percent say it is imposed too often—a new high.

As the percentage of Americans who said capital punishment is imposed too often increased from 18 percent in 2010 to 29 percent today, the share of Americans saying the death penalty is not imposed enough declined to a new low of 37 percent, down from 53 percent in 2005.

The data come from Gallup’s annual Crime poll and were collected October 1 through 10.

Gallup observed that support for capital punishment has been trending downward since peaking at 80 percent in the mid-1990s.

Currently, 56% of U.S. adults favor capital punishment — similar to last year’s 55%, which marked the lowest level of support for the practice since 1972, when the constitutionality of the death penalty was being challenged.

As Gallup put it, the data show that “as executions in the U.S. have decreased along with the generally sinking crime rate, Americans have become more likely to say capital punishment is unfairly applied and that it is imposed too frequently.”