It’s widely known that the United States is one of the few nations in the world still using the death penalty.
No other nation in the Americas retains capital punishment. And only Belarus in Europe does. This week the U.S. Supreme Court rejected permanent stays on
executions of the mentally ill. And a new survey shows 63% of the population still likes the idea of executions. Political division? A culture of fear? The Gallup Organization reports that
“Americans’ support for the death penalty as punishment for murder has plateaued in the low 60s in recentyears, after several years in which support was diminishing. Sixty-three percent now favor the death penalty as the punishment for murder, similar to 61% in 2011 and 64% in 2010.
“Gallup first asked Americans for their views on the death penalty using this question in 1936, and has asked it at least annually since 1999. The latest results come from a Dec. 19-22, 2012, USA Today/Gallup survey, conducted in the first few days after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting massacre.
“Although views on the death penalty have been fairly static since 2010, support has been gradually diminishing since the high point in 1994, when 80% were in favor. By 2001, roughly two-thirds were in favor, and since then it has edged closer to 60%.The death penalty is not relevant in the Newtown case, given that the lone gunman took his own life after his rampage; however, the tragedy could have influenced Americans’ thoughts about capital punishment and may be a reason support for it held steady this year, rather than declining any further.
“The majority, or at least plurality, of most demographic and political groups are in broad agreement about supporting the death penalty as punishment for murder.”