A full 61% of Americans back the death penalty, but even so, support is at a 39-year low. A new Gallup poll finds that support is down from 64% last year, and is at its lowest level since a brief moratorium on capital punishment began in 1972 with the Supreme Court ruling on Furman v. Georgia. The news comes on the heels of an exoneration last night, when DNA evidence freed a Texas man. The poll also found that 52% think the death penalty is applied fairly, down from last year’s 58%.
One-quarter of those polled said the death penalty is imposed “too often,” while 27% believe it is used “about the right amount” and 40% said it should be imposed more often. That 40% also represents the lowest level since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. Men, Republicans, and right-leaning independents were all more likely to support the death penalty. Support for capital punishment hit an all-time high of 80% in 1994, Politico notes. In other death penalty news, find out which state wants to bring back firing squads. (Read more death penalty stories.)