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 Poll Shows Growing Support for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; Capital Punishment Ranked Lowest Among Budget Priorities

 Unfairness, high costs, victims’ needs, and innocence are important to voters’ thinking about the death penalty

(Washington, D.C.)  The Death Penalty Information Center today released the results of one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted of Americans’ views on the death penalty. A national poll of 1,500 registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners shows growing support for alternatives to the death penalty compared with previous polls. A clear majority of voters (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, including life with no possibility of parole and with restitution to the victim’s family (39%), life with no possibility of parole (13%), or life with the possibility of parole (9%).

In states with the death penalty, a plurality of voters said it would make no difference in their vote if a representative supported repeal of the death penalty; and a majority (62%) said either it would make no difference (38%) or they would be more likely to vote for such a representative (24%).

“For decades, politicians have equated being tough on crime with support for the death penalty, but this research suggests voters want their elected officials to be smart on crime, use tax dollars wisely, and fund the services they care about the most. Capital punishment is not a high priority for voters and is not the ‘third rail’ of politics,” said Richard Dieter, Executive Director of Death Penalty Information Center.

“We see a real openness to considering life with no possibility for parole as a punishment for murder and a real awareness among Americans of the many problems with the death penalty.  It is likely we will see Americans moving away from support for the death penalty as states and local governments grapple with tight budgets and as today’s younger voters and Latinos move into the core of the electorate,” said pollster Celinda Lake.

Since the start of 2009, many states, such as Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, Kansas, and New Mexico considered legislation to repeal the death penalty, and it is expected that trend will continue in 2011.

Additional key findings from the polling research include:

·         Costs emerged as an important concern for a strong majority of Americans. Sixty-eight percent said cost was a very or somewhat convincing argument against the death penalty. Voters ranked emergency services, creating jobs, police and crime prevention, schools and libraries, public health care services, and roads and transportation as more important budget priorities than the death penalty.   

·         A strong majority of respondents (65%) would favor replacing the death penalty with life with no possibility of parole if the money saved were used to fund crime prevention programs.

·         Hispanic voters were among those most willing to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment. They responded most strongly to moral objections to the death penalty rooted in faith, as well as the argument that the death penalty is particularly unfair along racial lines.

The poll explored the information that the public uses to make up its mind about the death penalty and the problems they see with this punishment.

·         Some of the public’s top concerns about the death penalty were that it is applied unevenly and unfairly; it subjects victims’ families to lengthy trials and years of appeals that interfere with the healing process; and it risks executing the innocent.

·         Spending millions of dollars on the death penalty, at a time when states are cutting back on services such as police forces, schools, and public health, and when life in prison would cost less, was also of concern to voters.

·         Moral and religious objections to the death penalty were strong among Latino and Catholic voters.

The nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters was conducted by Lake Research Partners in May, 2010 with a margin of error of +/- 2.5%.  


Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. DPIC was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for the media, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue. DPIC is widely quoted and consulted by all those concerned with the death penalty.
Dear Dean,

I have just read many of your articles and firstly I would like to say that I am truly sorry you have been [sentenced] to death. It is a shadow no man should ever live under.

However I admire you for your bravery and heart in writing the articles, rather than pity or hate you as many people may choose to. I am openly sympathetic to your cause and to all others like yourself. I do not want to preach in any way, as I am not religious nor arrogant, I simply wish to share with you what little hope, comfort or interest my own thoughts and feelings upon reading your writing may provide.

To imagine myself in your shoes, as so many of us easily could be, brings me to the verge of tears. Whilst I do not condone those crimes whose names these punishments are administered under I believe that every living person has a soul and heart worth saving in any way possible. For anyone to outwardly believe it is right and just to destroy a whole being, with memories, hopes, loves, dreams, fears and most importantly a potential and a future, is wrong is so many ways that it is impossible to express. Every human being, no matter how cold or misguided, is deserving of a prevailing care and sense of forgiveness. The last thing a man needs when he has hit rock bottom is to be forced, by those he has lived with, trusted and was once considered a part of, deeper into the ground until most of us do not even recognize him as a full person any longer.

I beg to differ from the carelessness and chaos that has become the great USA. The land of the free where the most helpless are irrevocably incarcerated, and their last days stripped of meaning in a cruel and unnecessary manner. The once sweet lady Liberty should weep upon the sight of the citizens she was promised to, locked from herself and indeed, daylight and happiness. Capital punishment, like Vietnam and obesity, is an obtrusive scar on her once beautiful face. Yet I ask myself, What did the fallen of Vietnam get, though they killed and their war has shamed our star spangled banner? They get a monument in Washington, and rightly so, they sacrificed themselves for what they believed. They were human beings.

What treatment does obesity get? Care and understanding, rehabilitation as it is seen as a self induced sickness. So why, when so many that are sick in their minds and in need of the same care and understanding, are they proudly put to death, whole lives wasted in vain and cheapened to nothing but a warning, a finger wag from Uncle Sam. The death penalty serves no cause, no purpose but to fuel the deadly fire of vengeance, one of the ugliest traits of our species. It is wrong to kill another, and that is the same message that they preach from this punishment. It is blatant hypocrisy, a recurring pattern it would seem within this modern world.

If I were a victim of murder or a family member of the latter I would rather that the person were given the rest of their lives to think about what they had done, and be given the chance to make up for it. All but the few cowards and pessimists would rather die than spend the rest of their lives in the gray-walled monotonous half existence that is prison life. So where is the punishment or the morals, where is the logic or the so desperately heralded ideal of justice? The simple truth is it does not lie in the death penalty. It is archaic, naive and unintelligent to simply adopt the religious and age old slogan of ‘an eye for an eye’. In this age of the hyped up seeking of equality and perfect democracy it leaves nothing but a stain on both our society and our leaders.

If only DC and the Federal government would stop painting pretty pictures for the sake of power and self-righteousness we might hope to reclaim the dream that America was founded on. Hope to redeem our faith in true freedom and liberation and most importantly to you, hope to reinstate the right of life to humanity, and save those condemned men whose lives have already been lost in a number too great for an ignorant nation to consciously bare. The sad reality is that the world will never be perfect nor free from pain and suffering, but we can do far better than to make scapegoats of our brothers in a frantic attempt to delude ourselves that we are improving it, thus only truly adding to the inferno and preventing any real peace from being instilled.
There is hope Dean, for me, for you and for America, and all those that follow her.
My warmest regards and best wishes,

Dean replies:

Hello, BJ,

Well said.

You comment about our politicians and leaders, and I agree. I think the leaders like Bush and other Republicans are intentionally trying to dumb down America, so they can be free to do what they want and people like Sarah Palin can rally stupid people with catchphrases that don't make sense and using paraphrasing to give the illusion of intelligence.

It is ironic how this Tea Party she backs wraps itself in the American flag in order to weasel out of paying taxes. If they were real patriots, they would proudly and gladly pay taxes to support our country and government. As long as Americans are dumbed down, they will be too stupid to question the twisted and self-serving logic of people like Palin. The death penalty is another example of this sort of thinking… or non-thinking.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Take care,

Hello Dean

I wrote to you a few times now. I’m the weirdo in left field that’s been
telling you about the latter days we are now in. There’s nothing myopic
about column 49. What you’re seeing in the attitude of the guards is a
reflection of the chaos going on in your country.

You see, the leaders of America are taking your country apart to make
place for the new world order. I will not be more specific on the
subject because I would be writing you a book. In fact there is a super
accurate book already written on all of it, it’s call the bible. Right
now in our society were at the place where the good book talks about
Israel and how the whole world will be pissed at them. It looks really
bad for a nuclear war with Iran and Israel. U.S.A, Russia, Syria, China,
and others are all playing a role in this conflict. Some news say it
could break out this summer. We’re living in very interesting time.
Dean, maybe you can’t follow what’s happening on the outside, but it’s
crazy how the bible foretells it all. Everything fits like a glove.

I’m curious to ask you. Are the prisoners going to be expected to have a
microchip implanted in the near future? Did your hear anything? Rumors?
Dean, if you ever have the choice of a microchip implant, take death
first. This is the main message of this letter. A grim message I know,
but who ever accept the microchip is destined for hell for an eternity.
That’s not my words, that’s God’s. A bit of me thinks that it might be
forced to inmates, but that would go against the main rule of this 6000+
year old celestial war going on between good and evil. Neither side can
MAKE you do it, you have to volunteer to either side. So if given a
choice, you’ll first start by believe this letter and give it more
credibility, then you must avoid any implants. At all cost! If you do
avoid it, you might come out of that prison alive.

The rapture can snag you in a blink of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52). The
path to that is accepting the gift Jesus gave you by Him dying on the
cross for you, shedding is precious blood that takes the sins of the
world away. But you must genuinely repent of all your sins, no matter
how bad they are, they can all be forgiven for as long as you can still

I prayed that you play your cards right… it’s quite the game. Help
others if you can.

I’ll talk to you later

Ben Bigras

I have heard in some states they are doing the microchip thing. I am not a Christian. I am a Native American and practice the Native American Spiritual practices, but I think what you say is interesting. I thought it might be interesting for others to read as well. So I am posting it for everyone to read as well.
Thanks for writing. Dean


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