Support for the death penalty in California hasn’t been as low as it is today since the mid-1960’s, a new poll finds.
Just 56 percent support the punishment, down from 69 percent three years ago, according to the results of Field Poll survey of 1,280 registered voters. In between, in 2012, voters defeated a death penalty repeal by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent. The question has been asked of all registered voters in California since 2002, before which it was asked of all adults. Support for the death penalty hasn’t been this low since 1965 and was at its lowest in 1956.
While California is home to the most death row inmates by nearly a factor of two, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, it has only had held 13 executions since 1976, ranking it 31st among states in per capita executions.
In July, a federal judge ruled the state’s punishment was cruel and unusual due to the amount of time it takes to be implemented.
“Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State,” Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote. “It has resulted in a system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed. And it has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose. Such a system is unconstitutional.”
Voters were split on how the state should proceed in response to the ruling. Forty percent said the death penalty should be replaced with life without parole, while 52 percent said executions should be sped up.