Support for capital punishment remains steady, despite concerns about wrongful executions and uncertainty as to whether such punishment deters crime.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of 800 American adults found that 57 percent favor the death penalty. Just 26 percent are opposed, while 17 percent are undecided.
These findings are little changed from surveys over the past two years. Support for capital punishment hit a high of 67 percent in July 2012, shortly after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Before that, support had stayed in a narrow range of 60 percent to 63 percent since November 2009.
Americans remain divided as to whether the death penalty deters crime: 42 percent say it does, while 41 percent disagree. Another 16 percent are not sure.
Most (75 percent) also remain at least somewhat concerned that some people may be executed for crimes they didn’t commit. Just 23 percent do not share that concern. This includes 39 percent who are very concerned that some people may be wrongly executed and 4 percent who are not at all Concerned. These findings, too, have changed little since 2009.
Twenty-seven percent of Americans know their state has banned the death penalty, while 46 percent say their state has not done so. Twenty-seven percent aren’t aware whether their state has banned capital punishment or not, though that’s down slightly from 30 percent last year. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have abolished the death penalty.