Public Opinion is Shifting

Posted by Aarti on July 27th, 2010

Last week, you may have read that 70% of Californians support the death penalty according to a new Field Poll.  Several newspaper headlines cited that figure.  Upon further reading, however, we learn that 42 percent of voters prefer life in prison without parole and 41 percent prefer death when given a choice between the two sentences.

The last time the Field Poll asked that question, in 2000, it found that 44 percent chose the death penalty and 37 percent favored life without parole.

These statistics reflect a marked shift in public opinion.  People are realizing that life without parole is swift, severe, and cost-effective.

While the 70 percent figure represents abstract support for the death penalty, the majority of Californians realize that the death penalty is bad public policy and prefer life without parole.

"The majority of Californians now favor permanent imprisonment over the death penalty. That includes murder victims' family members like me," said Judy Kerr in a letter to the Sacramento Bee editor.

"Victims' families know that the death penalty does not bring back a loved one, that the death penalty wastes millions each year and that the death penalty does nothing but prolong grief and healing through endless appeals. Public opinion is shifting, and this is why."

Posted in Blog, CCV/Victims


Comments are now closed for this item.

  1. Comment by Richard L. Martinez, Jul 31st, 2010 9:13pm

    July 22, 2010, San Francisco Chron. article - "Support remains strong for capital punishment," noted comments from of a representative of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, "The question really is, do you favor the death penalty for the worst murderers?" "...Very few people want the death penalty for every first-degree murder case." That is an interesting comment when one actually reviews those on death rows. A number of cases fall into the worst of the worst: the mulitiple murders,serial killers,horrible murders in which the victims were abused prior to being killed, or killers of law enforcement officials. Yet when you look at the majority of those on death row, we see murderers who basically fall into "...every first-degree murder case."

    Perhaps society needs to take a close look at who exactly is on death row to determine if in fact they are the worst of the worst, or are the type as noted, "first-degree murder case." A small number of those on California's death row may fit the description of the worst of the worst; as compared to the majority who did not have the financial wherewithal to hire a 'Dream Team.' We also find where the crime is committed may determine if they will be recipients of the death penalty, as compared to being in another jurisdiction which does not push for the ultimate punishment. Perhaps if the citizens see exactly who is on death row, the numbers supporting the death penalty might not be as high as they are. Perhaps if the citizens realize the cost, the numbers of innocents who have been set free, that a disproportionate number of minorities are on death row, they may realize this is a penalty that is no longer needed to protect them.


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