Support for Capital Punishment Fading as Ohio Resumes Executions
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear two death penalty cases this term, and while the court will lean on constitutional law to reach its decision, about half of the country does not support the punishment.
New research released by the Pew Research Center finds the number of people in favor of the death penalty at its lowest in four decades.
Kristin Collins, a spokeswoman for The Center for Death Penalty Litigation, says with more than 150 people on death row exonerated from their crimes in recent years, including nine in Ohio, shifting opinion often starts with a broken system.
"You just can't trust the system to get it right, and when you can't trust that basic thing that they have the right people on death row, then it's kind of hard to support the death penalty," she states.
Ohio suspended executions for three years because of problems finding lethal injection drugs. Last week the state announced it will use a new three-drug combination of chemicals to execute three death row inmates in 2017.
In the 1990s, according to Pew, 8 in 10 Americans supported capital punishment. The report goes on to show that while support has declined across the spectrum, Republicans favor the punishment by more than 2-to-1, compared with Democrats.
Collins says people are beginning to understand that a life sentence is not the country club atmosphere sometimes portrayed in movies.
"Life without parole is a really harsh sentence, and I think anybody who might think it's sort of some fun, cushy sentence should go try it out,” she says. “If you're in central prison, you never even get a contact visit. You only visit through thick glass and bars with your family. It's not a pleasant life."
Currently in Ohio, there are 137 men and one woman on death row.