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60% Still Favor Death Penalty

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The execution of Troy Davis last week for murdering a Georgia policeman prompted controversy here and abroad, but it did little to shift opinions on the death penalty. Still, a sizable majority of Americans worries that people may be executed for crimes they didn't commit.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 60% favor the death penalty, while 28% oppose it. Another 12% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is little changed from surveys dating back to November 2009, with support for capital punishment running from 61% to 63%. 

However, nearly three-out-of-four Americans (74%) are at least somewhat concerned that people might be executed for crimes they did not commit, including 40% who are Very Concerned. This finding also is little changed from late 2009.

Twenty-three percent (23%) don't share that concern, but that includes just three percent (3%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Even a majority of those who favor the death penalty (63%) are at least somewhat concerned a person could be wrongfully executed, with 27% who are Very Concerned. Ninety-five percent (95%) who oppose the death penalty share that concern, and that includes 71% who are Very Concerned.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on September 23-24, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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