Most Americans support the death penalty in murder cases, but are divided on whether it acts as a deterrent for potential criminals, says a survey by the Angus Reid Public Opinion firm. The online survey of a representative sample of 1,006 adults found that a high proportion of respondents believe that innocent people have been executed in the United States.
Some 83 percent of respondents support punishing homicide with the death penalty, while 13 percent are opposed. A majority would also use capital punishment to punish rape (62%) and kidnapping (51%), but not armed robbery (40%). While 39 per cent think capital punishment acts as a deterrent, 35 per cent disagree. Republicans (52%) are more likely to believe that the death penalty deters potential criminals than Independents (40%) and Democrats (34%). Four-in-five respondents (81%) believe innocent people have been executed in the U.S.; only six per cent think that this has never happened.