USA - Poll Finds Bipartisan Opposition to Use of the Death Penalty as It is Actually Administered

USA - Justice Research Group 2022 Poll

06 March 2022 :

New Poll Finds Bipartisan Opposition to Use of the Death Penalty as It is Actually Administered
A new national poll has found that bipartisan majorities of Americans oppose seeking the death penalty against vulnerable groups of defendants who historically have been disproportionately subjected to its use. The poll, conducted by the Justice Research Group (JRG) November 3 to 5, 2021 and released February 17, 2022, found that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents by margins of more than 30 percentage points opposed the use of the death penalty against people with severe mental illness, brain damage, or intellectual impairments, and against veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Presenting the poll results, Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham noted that Americans “don’t actually know” who is being sentenced to death. The poll results, he said, are “really important because the American public, it turns out, does not support the death penalty that is actually administered in the United States.” The Justice Research Group conducted a national survey of 1,135 likely voters, using a sample representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. It had a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. The poll found that 60% of likely voters “oppose their local prosecutor seeking a death sentence against a person with a diagnosed mental illness,” compared with 27% who support such prosecutions. Opposition to seeking the death penalty against those “with serious intellectual impairment, for example someone who has an IQ score of 75 points,” was 59%. Likely voters were even more strongly opposed to seeking death sentences against individuals with a traumatic brain injury. 63% of likely voters opposed seeking the death penalty in these circumstances. Opposition to “seeking a death sentence against a person who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving their country in the U.S. armed forces” was 61%. 49% of likely voters opposed “seeking a death sentence against a person who has endured severe physical or sexual abuse as a child.” The most pronounced partisan differences involved whether local prosecutors should seek the death penalty in cases of defendants who were “over the age of 18 but under the age of 21” at the time of the offense. Democrats opposed 55% to 36%, Republicans supported these prosecutions, 56% to 33%, and Independents were nearly evenly split (46% to 45% against), as were likely voters as a whole (46% to 45% in support).


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