Politics Magazine

U.S. Still Aligned With Rogue Nations On Death Penalty

Posted on the 24 October 2014 by Jobsanger
U.S. Still Aligned With Rogue Nations On Death Penalty
U.S. Still Aligned With Rogue Nations On Death Penalty
There's some good news and some bad news for those who oppose the death penalty -- and both are illustrated in the charts above. The good news is that support for the death penalty has dropped over the last 20 years (from 80% in 1994 to 63% in 2014). The bad news is that a significant majority of Americans (63%) still support the death penalty, and that support has leveled out over the last few years.
Why do Americans support the death penalty? According to the Gallup Poll, the primary reason is a religious one -- that the Bible calls for "an eye for an eye". This is a terrible reason. No secular nation (and the U.S. is a secular nation based on a secular Constitution, regardless of what many evangelicals want to think) should ever be in the business of killing people for a religious reason. But that's the reason quoted by 35% of those who support the death penalty.
The second most popular reason (quoted by 14%) is that the death penalty saves the state money. These people simply don't understand the economics involved. The truth is that when you consider all the court costs for a death penalty trial, and the continuing costs of many years of appeals, the death penalty is actually more expensive to the state than keeping a person in prison for the remainder of their life.
Another 14% say the death penalty is appropriate because "they deserve it". It's hard to argue with that, because many who receive that penalty do deserve the harshest penalty they can get for the horrendous crimes they committed. But if killing is wrong for an individual, can it be right for the state? Isn't the taking of a life a terrible crime whether done by an individual or the state.
Unfortunately, most people in the United States still like the death penalty -- in spite of the fact that we have undoubtably executed some innocent people (and will again in the future), or that we have an unfair justice system (that treats whites and the rich more fairly than minorities and the poor). We Americans are a bloodthirsty lot when it comes to punishment.
And it doesn't seem to bother us at all that in supporting the death penalty we are alienating ourselves from all the other developed nations, and aligning ourselves with rogue nations -- nations that we generally dislike and distrust. The nations using the death penalty the most (besides us) are China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
I wish I could say this country is on a path toward banning the death penalty, but that is just not true. It looks like it will still be quite a while before the U.S. finds that moral path.
The charts above were made from a recent Gallup Poll -- done between September 25th and 30th of 1,252 adults and between October 12th and 15th of 1,017 adults, and it has a margin of error of about 4 points.

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