As death penalty opponents work to get a ballot measure before California voters next fall to abolish capital punishment, a new Field Poll indicates the initiative would be a tough sell, reports the Sacramento Bee. More than two-thirds of state voters – 68 percent – favor keeping the death penalty, the poll found, with 27 percent favoring abolition and 5 percent expressing no opinion.
“We’ve polled on this for 55 years,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. “It’s changed a little here and there, but just removing the death penalty as a potential punishment is opposed. That’s pretty clear.” Death penalty opponents launched an effort in August to replace capital punishment with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, something they said would save the state millions of dollars each year. On that point, the new poll found that more voters – 48 percent – now support imposing a life-without-parole sentence for first-degree murderers than those who favor the death penalty – 40 percent – in such cases. “I think what the public had in mind is the use of the death penalty for very heinous crimes, like multiple cop killings or terrorists,” DiCamillo said.