Wow: Support for the death penalty falls to 40-year low

posted at 8:01 pm on October 29, 2013 by Allahpundit

Support has been dropping at a rate of about a point year for the past 20 years. If that continues, it’ll sink below 50 percent sometime around 2024.

The good news? The big gay-marriage debate and probably even the big marijuana debate will almost certainly be long over by then, which means capital punishment will have center stage all to itself. Here’s your next social-issue hot potato, perhaps:

gal

Follow the link to Gallup and examine the partisan split. Support has fallen across the board over the past 25 years, but the decline among Republicans (-9) is less than half of what it is among Democrats (-22) and independents (-21). Even so, both indies (60 percent) and Republicans (81 percent) are still strongly in favor, and even Democrats have a near majority (47 percent). I’m skeptical that we’re headed for a future where a majority opposes CP outright, but we may be headed for one where the margin is narrower than it’s been since the mid-60s.

Question: Why? What’s driving this? My hunch after first seeing the data was that stories about people being wrongly convicted for crimes or being disproportionately punished because of race was slowly shifting public opinion. And that may be so — but there’s nothing in the rest of Gallup’s data that suggests it. The number who believe the death penalty is applied fairly is a bit lower than it’s been in recent years but still a point higher than it was back in 2000; the number who say it’s applied too often is lower than it was as recently as 2004. No dramatic shifts in either metric.

My next guess, fueled by a tweet by the Guardian’s Harry Enten, was that this is really just a reaction to the long decline in America’s crime rate. In theory, the safer people feel, the less sharply they’re likely to react to violent crime. Whether rightly or wrongly, many people think capital punishment deters some murders that would otherwise be committed. If there are fewer murders happening, go figure that the clamor for CP diminishes. If you look at this graph, tracking violent crime in the U.S. over the last few decades, you’ll find corroborating evidence for Enten’s theory. Crime ticked upward in the early 90s before beginning to fall steadily circa 1994. Coincidentally, per the Gallup graph up top here, support for the death penalty maxes out in 1994 and then begins to drop. That’s the answer! Except for one thing:

gal2

That comes from a Gallup poll published in 2011 showing that lots of Americans don’t actually know that crime has been dropping over time. A Pew poll published in May of this year provides additional evidence. The number of crimes committed while using a gun has fallen along with the rest of the crime rate, but a clear majority of Americans (56 percent) thinks it’s gone up over the past 20 years. (Only 26 percent knew the truth.) How can support for capital punishment be eroding due to America becoming safer if Americans don’t know that it’s safer? When I asked Enten, he reasoned that Americans might personally feel safer even though they’re ignorant of conditions in the country at large, and that in turn might be driving their feelings about CP. He pointed to this metric specifically — fear of walking alone at night — as possibly a better barometer of perceptions of crime. I don’t know, though; here’s what the 2011 Gallup poll showed on that.

gal3

No slow and steady decline there since the mid-90s. In fact, the same Gallup poll showed a sharp sustained increase post-9/11 in the number of people who thought local crime, specifically, was increasing rather than decreasing. If being afraid for your personal safety fuels support for capital punishment, we shouldn’t be seeing a steady drop.

Exit question: So what’s the explanation, then? I’m tempted to say it’s simply a byproduct of liberals winning the culture war (gay marriage, legalizing marijuana), but that feels like a pat answer. You can be pro-SSM and pro-legalization while remaining firmly pro-CP for murderers (trust me), although maybe people’s tendencies towards political orthodoxy encourage them to treat culture-war issues as a package deal. Any theories?


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Fire up ol’ Sparky…

OmahaConservative on October 29, 2013 at 8:07 PM

If you want the death penalty to be popular, put it on Pay-Per-View.

/Colosseum

thejackal on October 29, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Is this in relation to the POTUS lying post…? LOL

d1carter on October 29, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Oh, bullshite. These polls are constantly being manipulated.

It is unconstitutional to sentence someone to death for murder.

Try asking the honest question: Are you in favor of the DP for a person convicted of first degree murder plus a special circumstance who is also found to be a future danger and where aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating ones? Do that and you will find that support for the DP has not dropped.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

No death penalty except for the unborn. Is that where the left is taking us?

bgibbs1000 on October 29, 2013 at 8:14 PM

The media constantly downplay the actual facts of capital crimes. You would think everyone on death row is innocent or had a minor involvement in the crime. If you read the opinions and briefs and the local reporting on the crime (especially small town crime reporters) you find how much these murderers deserve the DP.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:14 PM

Lefties only support the death penalty for those who oppose The Whine.

rbj on October 29, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Exit question: So what’s the explanation, then?

The constant lying to the public by the anti-DP lobby and the MSM carrying their weight.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:16 PM

No death penalty except for the unborn. Is that where the left is taking us?

bgibbs1000 on October 29, 2013 at 8:14 PM

…yep!

KOOLAID2 on October 29, 2013 at 8:16 PM

The real question would be, how many people, knowing that the death penalty will have 0 possibility to be utilized will resort to vigilante justice. Particularly if the prison system starts letting out people who should have life sentences.

astonerii on October 29, 2013 at 8:16 PM

All for killing POS mfers who richly deserve it. But we need to tighten the evidentiary criteria for that sentence … and reduce the appeals opportunities.

M240H on October 29, 2013 at 8:17 PM

I’m assuming most of the people who answered this poll don’t know someone who’s been murdered.

jawkneemusic on October 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

The media constantly downplay the actual facts of capital crimes. You would think everyone on death row is innocent or had a minor involvement in the crime. If you read the opinions and briefs and the local reporting on the crime (especially small town crime reporters) you find how much these murderers deserve the DP.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:14 PM

“He’s such a good boy, he always calls his mother on Mother’s Day…”

slickwillie2001 on October 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

My motorcycle was stolen this morning. My only problem with the death penalty is that it isn’t applied to vehicle thieves.

Hayabusa on October 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Killing innocent babies who have harmed no one in the name of convenience = good

Executing the worst of the worse killers for their egregious crimes in the name of justice = bad

Tells you all you need to know about human “progress”.

HotAirian on October 29, 2013 at 8:19 PM

I thought I heard that support for stoning was up?

El_Terrible on October 29, 2013 at 8:20 PM

So what’s the explanation, then?

1/3 of America proudly living off food-stamps , welfare, unemployment and disability ?

burrata on October 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Oh, bullshite. These polls are constantly being manipulated.

It is unconstitutional to sentence someone to death for murder.

Try asking the honest question: Are you in favor of the DP for a person convicted of first degree murder plus a special circumstance who is also found to be a future danger and where aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating ones? Do that and you will find that support for the DP has not dropped.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

I used to be in complete agreement with you, believing that the death penalty is the ultimate form of self-defense.

But the number of death row convictions that have been overturned with DNA evidence has been troubling.

Hot Gas on October 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Here’s a question they should ask:

Are you in favor of the death penalty for someone found guilty of kidnapping a 2 year old girl, raping her, skinning her alive, and then killing her and who is also found to have a long history of raping hundreds of children?

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM

I thought I heard that support for stoning was up?

El_Terrible on October 29, 2013 at 8:20 PM

.
It is, in the Middle-East.

listens2glenn on October 29, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Any theories?

Sure. It’s as you imply, people who respond to polls generally answer according to their feelings at the moment rather than to well thought out and reasoned positions.

Cleombrotus on October 29, 2013 at 8:28 PM

But the number of death row convictions that have been overturned with DNA evidence has been troubling.

Hot Gas on October 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

I’m too tired to get into it but that argument is disingenuous.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:28 PM

Not in Texas it hasn’t. Yeah-I absolutely support it.

“Other states are trying to abolish the death penalty… mine’s putting in an express lane.”

-Ron White.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Wow: Support for the death penalty falls to 40-year low

Why not? The legal system is rotten from the top down and convictions can’t be trusted, while the guilty as sin walk.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Here’s a question they should ask:

Are you in favor of the death penalty for someone found guilty of kidnapping a 2 year old girl, raping her, skinning her alive, and then killing her and who is also found to have a long history of raping hundreds of children?

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Very good; the rest is just haggling over price.

slickwillie2001 on October 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

My problem with the death penalty is too many false confessions drawn out by overzealous cop’s. It happens far more than people imagine.

steel guy on October 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Hot Gas on October 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Even worse are the people already executed that were later exonerated postmordem. And the people that blindly believe the system always works perfectly.

mythicknight on October 29, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Oh, bullshite. These polls are constantly being manipulated.

It is unconstitutional to sentence someone to death for murder.

Try asking the honest question: Are you in favor of the DP for a person convicted of first degree murder plus a special circumstance who is also found to be a future danger and where aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating ones? And after 12-30 years on average of state and federal appeals and a clemency hearing? Do that and you will find that support for the DP has not dropped.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Forgot that part. Again, ask an honest question based on the actual law and not based on something that is unconstitutional, i.e., murder alone is subject to the DP, and you would get an honest poll demonstrating that support is still around 70%. If you actually added the facts of the crime, the heinousness of it, support would be well above even that.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

motorcycle was stolen this morning. My only problem with the death penalty is that it isn’t applied to vehicle thieves. Hayabusa on October 29, 2013 at 8:18 P

Dude,, sorry to hear that.

wolly4321 on October 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Even worse are the people already executed that were later exonerated postmordem. And the people that blindly believe the system always works perfectly.

mythicknight on October 29, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Yawn. Since the DP was reinstated, there have been no exonerations post execution. But thanks for repeating that lie.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 8:36 PM

My motorcycle was stolen this morning. My only problem with the death penalty is that it isn’t applied to vehicle thieves.
Hayabusa on October 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Have you seen the Brazil motorcycle jacking video? Armed thief got what he had coming on the spot by a offduty cop driving by.

mythicknight on October 29, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Even worse are the people already executed that were later exonerated postmordem. And the people that blindly believe the system always works perfectly.

mythicknight on October 29, 2013 at 8:33 PM

.
Yeah ….. I’d like a poll taken to show how many people “blindly believe the system always works perfectly.”

listens2glenn on October 29, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Exit question: So what’s the explanation, then?

“Romney 49%, Obama 48% in Gallup’s Final Election Survey”

whatcat on October 29, 2013 at 8:43 PM

I say we do away with the death penalty and just drop convicted murderers off in Detroit.

Oldnuke on October 29, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Wow: Support for the death penalty individual responsibility falls to 40-year low

Seems less shocking when you phrase it more succinctly.

CycloneCDB on October 29, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Any theories?

We’re turning into a low trust, low competence society and people see it everyday at all levels. The stupid is strong in America and no one wants to be at the mercy of these folks.

Pot and gay marriage are easy to figure out. Pot is, well, pot and gay marriage is an issue pushed by rich elites. Rich elites always get their way.

Punchenko on October 29, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Just tell lefties that the death penalty is just late term abortion. You won’t see one liberal against it.

The Notorious G.O.P on October 29, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Just tell lefties that the death penalty is just late term abortion. You won’t see one liberal against it.

The Notorious G.O.P on October 29, 2013 at 8:48 PM

.
THREAD WINNER !

listens2glenn on October 29, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Here is my concern. I have absolutely no faith in government, or the system to do the right thing. The system is corrupt. It always amazes me how fellow conservatives have blind faith in the justice system. I would rather see a guilty man rot in prison as opposed to seeing an innocent man murdered by the state.

MoreLiberty on October 29, 2013 at 8:54 PM

The shift among Democrats is enough to explain the trend. This is more a function, then, of ideological polarization among the parties as well as spatial sorting. There may even be a gender gap at work.

Robert_Paulson on October 29, 2013 at 8:57 PM

And the people that blindly believe the system always works perfectly.

mythicknight

Those three people really need to get a clue.

xblade on October 29, 2013 at 8:57 PM

There’s currently a trial in Texas where a lady in her 70s worked as a cashier at a gas station. Guy comes in and doses her with gasoline and sets her on fire. Of course, she dies a painful death. There is no doubt as to his guilt. It’s on the security tape. Why shouldn’t he be executed if sentenced to death?

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Exit question: So what’s the explanation, then?



The decline of the serial killer.

The support for the death penalty reached dizzying heights in 1994 after 2 decades of relentless stories and films about and glorifying serial killers. The trend finally petered out. Support then slowly dropped to around 60% where it pretty much has been and will stay. The serial killers are still around but they’re ugly, dumb and uninteresting.

It would still be up around 80% if the next trend which Hollywood and the MSM picked up, mass shooters, was not perpetrated by people who usually save us a lot of expense and money by killing themselves or shooting it out with the police. But people are more than happy to keep the death penalty around for these guys just in case. I’m willing to bet support for executing the Boston Marathon bomber runs very high.

Rocks on October 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

If one pleads GUILTY to murder, they should be executed on the spot–not given a lighter sentence. That’s all.

SouthernGent on October 29, 2013 at 9:19 PM

All for killing POS mfers who richly deserve it. But we need to tighten the evidentiary criteria for that sentence … and reduce the appeals opportunities.

M240H on October 29, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Good Plan…nothing like killing some innocent people….I believe Randall Adams might disagree.

Obviously I oppose the Death Penalty, but I fear that instead of Life Without Parole (LWOP) the opponents of the DP will move us to a European-style “Justice” System.

There are people, Charles Manson, who can NEVER be let loose on society again….I just don’t believe in killing them.

My philosophy is All life has potential, for good or ill. We ought never cut short that potential so long as there is a cost-effective alternative available.

I oppose the DP and Abortion on the same grounds, there ARE alternatives that work, just as cheaply…but why I support Just War Theory. I can’t see an alternative to war when it comes to Hussein, Usama, Hitler and the like.

JFKY on October 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

I favor the DP … that said, if on a jury … I would probably convict life w/o parole simply because ppl die of old age in prison anyway … and we pay the appeal process in DP cases …

conservative tarheel on October 29, 2013 at 9:40 PM

If one pleads GUILTY to murder,

REALLY, drunken brawl or murder for hire all the same to you, eh?

JFKY on October 29, 2013 at 9:42 PM

NC Spin (local politics show, with usually 2 from the right and 2 from the left) had a show on Sunday with 4 kids from 4H (State Fair week). For some reason the death penalty questions came up. All for kids were for the death penalty. One even said that they process should be shorter so that they don’t stay on death row more than 10 years.

LoganSix on October 29, 2013 at 9:55 PM

I favor the DP … that said, if on a jury … I would probably convict life w/o parole simply because ppl die of old age in prison anyway … and we pay the appeal process in DP cases …

conservative tarheel on October 29, 2013 at 9:40 PM

You pay for the lwop appeals, too. And without the DP, all the antiDP nuts will focus on getting rid of not only lwop but life sentences, too. Yes, that is their plan. States that abolished the DP have not saved money. Without the DP there will be more trials since they have nothing to lose. With death on the table, you have something to plea bargain with. And what do you do when someone who has committed murder commits another murder in prison? Again, they have nothing to lose.

Blake on October 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM

If one pleads GUILTY to murder, they should be executed on the spot–not given a lighter sentence. That’s all.

SouthernGent on October 29, 2013 at 9:19 PM

.
I’m going to give our DA’s some leeway on that, seeing how the JUDICIARY has made it so difficult for them to prosecute.

But I don’t disagree with your sentiment.

listens2glenn on October 29, 2013 at 10:11 PM

If you like your death penalty, you can keep your death penalty.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on October 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM

My support for CP is less than it used to be not because of the concept of CP, but because of the corruption of government prosecutors and police.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on October 29, 2013 at 10:40 PM

One of my favorite sites:

http://clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/usexecute.htm

Ugly on October 29, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Capital punishment is not about punishment, or even deterrence. It is the line we draw between the tolerable and the intolerable. We fine or imprison miscreants that do things that we disapprove, but can tolerate to some degree. We terminate those whose crimes cannot be tolerated.

As society becomes more permissive, misdeeds become more tolerable. Things that would have earned a swift and sure hanging (after a fair trial) when I was a child are now punished with a 20 year sentence with parole after 5-7 years and time off for good behavior, and sometimes as little as 30 days, including time served while awaiting trial.

If one could measure the morality of the people who make up a society, one would probably find a positive correlation between moral standards (moral certainty?) and support for capital punishment.

underdog on October 30, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Question: Why? What’s driving this?

When you look at this administration in particular and government in general, does anyone really want them to have the power to kill people?

Wendya on October 30, 2013 at 12:24 AM

I oppose the DP and Abortion on the same grounds, there ARE alternatives that work, just as cheaply…but why I support Just War Theory. I can’t see an alternative to war when it comes to Hussein, Usama, Hitler and the like.

JFKY on October 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

The country is 17 trillion in debt. It costs 50k yearly for a bed in a maximum security extended stay.. Any argument about the costs of carrying out the death penalty are specious. Those costs were put in place by liberals intent on making it expensive.

Some crimes scream out for the death penalty. Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind. Is finding body parts in his fridge not enough evidence? Too bad we had to rely on an inmate to do the job we couldn’t do ourselves.

How ’bout the hunter in Wisconsin who shot and killed 6 people with his AK. Too few eyewitnesses?

Regardless of the headline, 60% still support the death penalty. And with crime beginning to tick up, and Tsarnaev (sp?) still sucking air (and more like him to follow), the death penalty will most definitely NOT be a culture war clash.

WryTrvllr on October 30, 2013 at 12:58 AM

http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/PSATSFV.PDF

Granted, this info is dated (1992) but the chart shows the average murderer gets out in under 6 years.

And the most lenient numbers I can find for homicide recidivism come in at 1.2%. That’s also a lot of innocent people. But low and behold, the source of that data claimed 1.2 %, WITHIN 3 YEARS.

http://www.centerforce.org/2011/01/low-recidivism-rate-reported-for-paroled-ny-murderers/

Glad they consider a 1.2% risk in the first 3 years acceptable.

WryTrvllr on October 30, 2013 at 1:25 AM

It makes sense. And why not? The value people place on life has diminished.

anuts on October 30, 2013 at 2:35 AM

The crime I would make capital is the masterminding of voter fraud. And forget Old Sparky. I’d prefer a six-foot drop on a well-soaped rope.

njcommuter on October 30, 2013 at 6:24 AM

Just so long as Øbama doesn’t say “If you like the death penalty, you can keep the death penalty.”

Kafir on October 30, 2013 at 7:22 AM

Here is my concern. I have absolutely no faith in government, or the system to do the right thing. The system is corrupt. It always amazes me how fellow conservatives have blind faith in the justice system. I would rather see a guilty man rot in prison as opposed to seeing an innocent man murdered by the state.

MoreLiberty on October 29, 2013 at 8:54 PM

Ditto. I have more faith in vigilante justice these days for the most heinous of crimes where its blatantly obvious a violent crime like murder was committed than so called government “justice” system.

oryguncon on October 30, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Death Penalty Support Down a Tad, or Maybe Up a Tad
October 29, 2013 1:07 PM | Posted by Kent Scheidegger

Gallup has released its annual poll on support for the death penalty. On the question that Gallup has asked since the 30s, “Are you in favor of the death penalty for murder?”, there is a bit of further erosion, although support is still overwhelmingly “yes” to that question.

As I have noted before here, though, the traditional question is deficient in that it could be understood to be asking about the death penalty for all murders or the typical murder. I would answer “no” to the question, so understood, myself.

Another question Gallup asks better reflects the actual policy question of whether we should impose the death penalty on the worst murderers: “In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed — [ROTATED: too often, about the right amount, or not often enough]?” The sum of right+not enough constitutes support for the death penalty as it presently is or tougher.

By this measure, support is up a tad since 2011, the last time Gallup asked the question, and opposition is down a tad. “Right” + “not enough” totals 70%, up from 67%, while “too often” slips from 25% to 22%.

http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2013/10/death-penalty-support-down-a-t.html

The gallop poll bs which is promoted by the antiDP advocates is a yearly event. As you can see, the question is deceptively asked to get the response the want. Support remains around 70% or higher and is up from previous years.

Blake on October 30, 2013 at 10:05 AM

I don’t have issues putting an offender to death, I’d be willing to be the executioner for some, I do have concerns with the prosecutorial methods I read about.
I think, pure opinion, egos drive far too many cases and the dna clearances really bother me.
however if someone pleads guilty, no matter why they do, pull the plunger/switch/trigger/whatever.

dmacleo on October 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Here in Texas we are just fine with it. A monster just this week inTerrell murdered his mom, his aunt, his 2 high school buddies, and a convenience store clerk. He has a long criminal history and history of drug abuse. Why should we have to pay for 3 hots and a cot for the rest of this miserable waste of space? The cost of the chemicals used to put him to sleep is minimal.

neyney on October 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM

I’m going to give our DA’s some leeway on that

Not me, the DA directly represents the government.

MoreLiberty on October 30, 2013 at 11:46 AM