By Alan Bean
A new Angus-Reid poll suggests that 83% of Americans support the death penalty while only 13% oppose it.
This distressing news illustrates how much we have changed as a nation. In 1966, 47% opposed capital punishment while only 42% supported it.
You may be surprised to learn that support for the ultimate penalty is strongest in the “liberal” Northeast (85%) and the Midwest (86%) and weakest in the South (79%). Incarceration rates and the actual use of the death penalty would suggest that the South is the most punitive region. Since the reinstitution of capital punishment in 1976, there have been 464 executions in the state of Texas and virtually none in New England. Incarceration rates in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are at least three times as high as in the Northeast.
So why did the Angus-Reid people find that southerners are less inclined to favor the death penalty than northeasterners? (more…)