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The Nation : Most Favor Death Penalty

March 03, 1986

A 2-to-1 majority of Americans believes that threat of the death penalty dissuades some people from committing murder. In the latest Gallup Poll, 61% say they believe the death penalty serves as a murder deterrent, while 32% say it does not and 7% are undecided. In the current survey, 70% favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 22% are opposed. The survey also found that support for the death penalty would decline--from 70% to 55%--if life imprisonment without parole were an alternative to execution. A similar decline in support for capital punishment, from 70% to 56%, would occur, the survey found, if new evidence proved that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to murder.

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