Last week, Pew Research Center released results of a 2013 survey which indicates that support for the death penalty is shrinking. The survey breaks out different demographic groups by race, religious affiliation, gender, age and political party affiliation. While the data shows that in most cases a majority of Americans support the death penalty, what is striking is that the gap between those who support it and those who oppose it is narrowing rapidly. In the mid-nineties when support was the highest, there was a 60-point gap (78% favor vs. 18% oppose) compared to public opinion today where there is only an 18-point difference between those who support the death penalty and those who oppose it (55% favor vs. 37% oppose).
From our work, we know that when people receive even basic information about the flaws and failures of the death penalty or consider alternative punishments that hold the guilty accountable while also protecting against the wrongful execution of innocents, the numbers swing in the opposite direction with the majority opposing the death penalty.