Gallup Poll on Public Opinion of the Death Penalty

Reference: Gallup

In your opinion, is the death penalty imposed — [ROTATED: too often, about the right amount, or not often enough]?

Too
often

About
the right
amount

Not
enough

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2011 Oct 6-9

25

27

40

8

2010 Oct 7-10

18

26

49

7

2009 Oct 1-4

20

24

49

7

2008 Oct 3-5

21

23

48

8

2007 Oct 4-7

21

26

49

4

2006 May 8-11

21

25

51

3

2005 May 2-5

20

24

53

3

2004 May 2-4

23

25

48

4

2003 May 5-7

23

26

48

3

2002 May 6-9

22

24

47

7

2001 May 10-14

21

34

38

7

Generally speaking, do you believe the death penalty is applied fairly or unfairly in this country today?

Fairly

Unfairly

No opinion

%

%

%

2011 Oct 6-9

52

41

6

2010 Oct 7-10

58

36

7

2009 Oct 1-4

57

34

9

2008 Oct 3-5

54

38

8

2007 Oct 4-7

57

38

5

2006 May 8-11

60

35

4

2005 May 2-5

61

35

4

2004 May 2-4

55

39

6

2003 May 5-7

60

37

3

2002 May 6-9

53

40

7

2000 Jun 23-25

51

41

8

Do you feel that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to the commitment of murder, that it lowers the murder rate, or not?

Yes, does

No, does not

No opinion

%

%

%

2011 Oct 6-9

32

64

4

2006 May 8-11

34

64

2

2004 May 2-4

35

62

3

1991 Jun 13-16

51

41

8

1986 Jan 10-13

61

32

7

1985 Jan 11-14

62

31

7

If you could choose between the following two approaches, which do you think is the better penalty for murder — [ROTATED: the death penalty (or) life imprisonment, with absolutely no possibility of parole]?

The death
penalty

Life
imprisonment

No
opinion

%

%

%

2010 Oct 7-10

49

46

6

2006 May 5-7 ^

47

48

5

2001 Feb 19-21 ^

54

42

4

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5 ^

49

47

4

2000 Feb 20-21

52

37

11

1999 Feb 8-9 ^

56

38

6

1997 Aug 12-13 ^

61

29

10

1993 Oct 13-18

59

29

12

1992 Mar 30-Apr 5

50

37

13

1991 Jun 13-16

53

35

11

1986 Jan 10-13

55

35

10

1985 Jan 11-14

56

34

10

^ Asked of a half sample

How often do you think that a person has been executed under the death penalty who was, in fact, innocent of the crime he or she was charged with — do you think this has happened in the past five years, or not?

Yes, in past
five years

No, not

No
opinion

%

%

%

2009 Oct 1-4

59

31

10

2006 May 8-11

63

27

10

2005 May 2-5

59

33

8

2003 May 5-7

73

22

5

Just your best guess, about what percent of people who are executed under the death penalty are really innocent of the crime they were charged with?

[BASED ON ADULTS WHO SAY SOMEONE HAS BEEN EXECUTED UNDER THE DEATH PENALTY IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS WHO WAS INNOCENT OF THE CRIME]

2005 May 2-5

2003 May 5-7

%

%

None

*

1-5%

57

55

6-10%

14

13

11-20%

10

8

21-50%

9

15

More than 50%

2

2

No opinion

8

7

Mean

10.7%

11.7%

Median

5%

5%

* Less than 0.5%

Which comes closer to your view — [ROTATED: states should be allowed to execute prisoners sentenced to the death penalty by means of lethal injection, (or) lethal injection of death row prisoners represents cruel and unusual punishment that should not be permitted]?

Allowed by
means
of lethal
injection

Not permit
lethal injection

No
opinion

2004 Mar 26-28

75%

21

4

Why do you favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder? [Open-ended]

[BASED ON ADULTS WHO FAVOR THE DEATH PENALTY FOR PERSONS CONVICTED OF MURDER]

May
19-21,
2003

Feb
19-21,
2001

Jun
13-16,
1991

%

%

%

An eye for an eye/They took a life/Fits the crime

37

48

50

They deserve it

13

6

Save taxpayers money/Cost associated with prison

11

20

13

Deterrent for potential crimes/Set an example

11

10

13

They will repeat crime/Keep them from repeating it

7

6

19

Biblical reasons

5

3

Depends on the type of crime they commit

4

6

Serve justice

4

1

3

Fair punishment

3

1

If there’s no doubt the person committed the crime

3

2

Would help/benefit families of victims

2

1

Support/believe in death penalty

2

6

Don’t believe they can be rehabilitated

2

2

Life sentences don’t always mean life in prison

1

2

Relieves prison overcrowding

1

2

Other

4

3

11

No opinion

2

1

2

Why do you oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder? [Open-ended]

[BASED ON ADULTS WHO OPPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY FOR PERSONS CONVICTED OF MURDER]

May
19-21,
2003

Jun.
13-16,
1991

%

%

Wrong to take a life

46

41

Persons may be wrongly convicted

25

11

Punishment should be left to God/Religious belief

13

17

Need to pay/suffer longer/think about their crime

5

Possibility of rehabilitation

5

6

Depends on the circumstances

4

Unfair application of death penalty

4

6

Does not deter people from committing murder

4

7

Other

3

16

No opinion

4

6

Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for — [RANDOM ORDER]? How about for — [INSERT NEXT ITEM]?

Women

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

68%

29

3

The mentally ill

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

19%

75

6

The mentally retarded

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

13%

82

5

Juveniles

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 May 6-9

26%

69

5