NEW YORK — Over 80 percent of all Americans want murderers executed. Also for rape and kidnapping, a majority believe that the punishment should be death, according to a recent national survey. At the same time, each year five people on death row are pardoned.
The United States differs from other industrialized democracies, and still rely heavily on the death penalty. In 2016, 20 people were executed.
There has always been a debate about the death penalty, and 15 separate States have banned its use. A relatively new argument against the death penalty is the new DNA technology, which shows increasing numbers of innocent people sentenced to death. Throughout the past decade, an average of five death convictions a year are acquitted, compared to three per year the decade before.
Nevertheless, there is a very substantial support for the death penalty among the American public.
A survey by polling Institute Angus Reid shows that 83 percent of all Americans support that convicted murderers are put to death.
The support appears to mainly moral in its nature: only 39 percent think that the penalty has a deterrent effect, and 81 percent are confident that innocent people have been executed in the United States.
A majority of all Americans think that death would be an appropriate penalty for other crimes than murder. 62 percent believe that rape should lead to a death penalty, while 51 percent advocate for the death sentence for kidnapping. For armed robbery, the share is down to 40 percent.
There are some partisan and geographical differences between Americans on the issue. Capital punishment for murder met greater resistance among independent and Democratic voters (15 percent) than among Republicans (9 percent).
Among Republicans, a small majority, 52 percent, believe that the penalty is an effective deterrent.Only 34 percent of those who vote for the Democrats share the same views.
Death penalty advocates primarily live in the Midwest, while the lowest support is found in southern States. In between lie the Northeastern and Western United States. But the difference is barely detectable; support varies between 79 and 86 percent.
Should the absolute worst criminals get a chance to improve? Can the death penalty deter and prevent crime? Do we even have the right to take the lives of American citizens in the name of justice?
On December 2, 2005, at 2.15 pm, local time the thousandth prisoner was, executed since the death penalty was brought back into practice in 1976. The defendant was Kenneth Lee Boyd from North Carolina who was killed with a lethal injection. He was sentenced against his refusal for several murders in 1988.
Despite a major setback in 2015, the world continues its path towards the abolition of the death penalty. Parts of the development during the last year brings optimism and show that countries that cling to the death penalty belong to an isolated minority.
For the first time, a majority of the world’s countries – 102 – have now completely abolished the death penalty. A total of 140 countries all over the world abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Is the time ripe for us Americans to reconsider our firm stand?