The latest Gallup Poll shows that national support for the death penalty continues to decline. The survey found 60% of respondents supported capital punishment – a significant decline from 1994, when 80% of Americans favored the death penalty, and the lowest level since November 1972, when 57 percent were in favor.
Support for the death penalty has diminished since late last year, when a poll conducted a few days after the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, gauged support at 63 percent.
State and federal laws, reports Gallup, “have tended to move in concert with public opinion. Support is now the lowest in four decades, and a growing number of states have taken action to abolish the death penalty.”
There is a distinct trend of states abolishing capital punishment in recent years. In 2004, the New York Court of Appeals held that a portion of the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional, and in 2007, applied that holding to the last remaining person on the state’s death row. The New York legislature has voted down attempts to restore the statute. New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007, followed by New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, and Connecticut in 2012. Earlier this year, Maryland became the eighteenth state to abolish the death penalty.