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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Support for the DP declining in California

From the San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2006:

    Support for Death Penalty Declines in California

    Californians' support for the death penalty is declining according to
    results of a new survey conducted in February 2006 by the Field Poll.

    The statewide poll revealed that only 63% of respondents favor
    keeping the death penalty for serious crimes, a figure that is lower
    than the 72% support for the death penalty measured in 2002 and
    significantly less than the 83% who voiced support for capital
    punishment in both 1985 and 1986.

    The survey also found a growing segment of the population questioning
    the fairness of the death penalty. The poll asked Californians if
    they believed the death penalty has been "generally fair and free
    from error."

    Among respondents, 48% said yes, 39% said no, and 13% had no opinion.
    When the same question was posed during a poll two years ago, 58%
    said the system was fair, and 31% disagreed.

    "The sophistication of Californians on this issue is growing. We're
    getting close to that point when the death penalty can no longer
    drive political decisions as it has in the past," noted Lance
    Lindsey, Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus.

    In the three months leading up to the Field Poll, California carried
    out two executions, including the highly publicized execution of
    Stanley Williams and the execution of Clarence Ray Allen, who at 76
    years old was blind and so feeble that he had to be wheeled to the
    death chamber.

    On February 21, a federal judge blocked the execution of Michael
    Morales due to concerns about the constitutionality of the lethal
    injection process. A hearing in May is scheduled to determine whether
    California's procedures for lethal injection pose a significant risk
    of leaving the prisoner conscious and in pain during executions.