Support for the death penalty is at a 40-year low

Only 56 percent of U.S. citizens support the death penalty
(Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

A new poll from the Pew Research Center found that only 56 percent of U.S. citizens support the death penalty, marking its lowest support figure in 40 years. Pew notes that during the 1980s and 1990s, more than 70 percent of Americans favored the death penalty.

The study, which surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults by phone, found that Democrats are largely responsible for the decline. Forty percent of Democrats said they supported the death penalty, and 56 percent were opposed to it. But in 1996, 71 percent of Democrats supported the death penalty. Meanwhile, 77 percent of Republicans supported the death penalty, a much less drastic decrease from 87 percent in 1996.

Seventy-one percent of poll respondents expressed concern that "there is some risk that an innocent person will be put to death," Pew noted, while 61 percent said the death penalty "does not deter people from committing serious crimes."

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