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Americans Prefer Life in Prison Over Death Penalty for Murder, Poll Shows

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans prefer someone face life in prison without parole over the death penalty, which signifies a national shift from a few years ago. It’s the first time in the 34 years Gallup has been asking this question that there has been a change in opinion.

“The 60% to 36% advantage for life imprisonment marks a shift from the past two decades, when Americans were mostly divided in their views of the better punishment for murder,” the survey says. “During the 1980s and 1990s, consistent majorities thought the death penalty was the better option for convicted murderers.”

The survey was conducted from Oct. 14-31 — just before Rodney Reed’s case made national headlines when his execution in Texas was halted. Reed has been accused of murder and has been on death row for decades, though ample evidence points to his innocence.

The last time Gallup polled Americans on whether they preferred life imprisonment with no parole or the death penalty for murder was in 2014. That year, only 37% of Democrats favored the death penalty while 68% of Republicans did.

In 2019, only 19% of Democrats prefer the death penalty for murder while 58% of Republicans still do.

Most states have abandoned the death penalty over concerns with wrongful convictions and expensive appeals that can drag on for years.

But the Trump administration has moved to resume capital punishment. In July, the White House announced its plan to start executing federal prisoners charged with the death penalty for the first time in 16 years. But the attempt hasn’t succeeded yet.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the District of Columbia ruled that the Justice Department’s proposed lethal injection procedure “is not authorized” by federal law, The Washington Post reported.

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