Most Americans Remain Supportive Of The Death Penalty

Views on capital punishment for convicted murderers have remained largely unchanged for a decade.

A large majority of Americans continue to favor capital punishment for those convicted of murder, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. 

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they favor use of the death penalty for convicted murderers, while 37 percent are against it. While support for capital punishment in cases of murder has been waning since it reached a peak of 80 percent in 1994, the proportion of those in favor has hovered at or just above 60 percent during the last decade.

Forty percent say capital punishment is not imposed often enough, 27 percent say it's imposed about the right amount and another 27 percent say it's applied too often. Slightly over half of respondents said they believe the death penalty is applied fairly. 

The issue continues to remain highly partisan. Eighty-two percent of Republicans surveyed favored the punishment, compared to just 49 percent of Democrats.

Black people are also far more likely than white people to oppose the death penalty, the survey found. While just 29 percent of white respondents said they oppose capital punishment for convicted murderers, 55 percent of black respondents are against the practice. Gallup noted that 42 percent of people on death row are black -- a large percentage compared to the proportion in the overall U.S. population. 

The survey also looked at the use of the death penalty, noting that while public sentiment toward it remains favorable, the practice has declined dramatically in recent years. The year 2014 had the fewest death sentences issued since a moratorium on capital punishment ended in 1976, as well as the fewest executions ever recorded in a single year. 

Gallup surveyed 1,015 adults nationally using live interviews over landline and cell phone on Oct. 7-11.