Americans are taking another look at the death penalty — and increasingly they are not liking what they’re seeing.
The conclusion comes from a new poll by the Pew Research Center, which surveyed more than 1,200 adults in the US in late August and early September.
The survey found that opposition to the death penalty — for murder, specifically — is at the highest point it’s been since 1972. Support for the death penalty has similarly plummeted, with fewer than half of Americans now in favor of it.
Pew found that there is still a partisan divide in support for the death penalty, with Republicans more than twice as likely to support it. But support has dropped among people of all political parties over the past several years.
So what’s causing the drop? The latest study didn’t offer specific answers. But another Pew survey from 2015 found that even though a majority of the public says the death penalty is morally justified, most Americans also say there’s a risk that innocent people will be executed and that the death penalty does not deter crime.
Based on those findings, perhaps a growing number of Americans don’t feel the pros outweigh the cons and risks — and it’s leading them to oppose it.