Why do most American support the death penalty? And, why do some oppose it? As we reported yesterday, most Americans support the option for people convicted of murder.
Today, we’re asking: Why?
A popular reason is an Old Testament application—“an eye for an eye,” according to Gallup. Combined with similar reasons, this is the most popular explanation of support for capital punishment, cited by 37% of people polled by Gallup in May 2003. (These are Gallup’s latest statistics on reasons, given at a time when 70% of American supported the death penalty.)
Other reasons for supporting the death penalty include: retribution (13%), saves money associated with prison (11%), acts as a deterrent (11%), keeps people from repeating their crimes (7%), or generally “Biblical reasons” (5%).
What about the other side?
Why do millions of Americans say thumbs down on capital punishment? Almost half (46%) say it’s wrong to take a life. About one in four worries about mistakes—those who are wrongly convicted but executed (25%). About one in ten (12%) cite religious reasons: Punishment should be left to God or it’s against my religious beliefs (12%). Only one in twenty (5%) say they oppose capital punishment because the guilty should suffer longer and think about their crimes. About the same see some hope, the possibility of rehabilitation.
Do you support “an eye for an eye”?
Do you think a state execution is morally wrong?
What’s your reason for supporting or opposing the death penalty?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.