The poll found that 58 percent of adults support the death penalty, but only 48 percent said it's always the most appropriate punishment for those convicted of first-degree murder, according to researchers at Elon University. Another 10 percent said the sentence depends on the circumstances.
About 38 percent of respondents said they believe life in prison is the most appropriate sentence for murderers.
Those numbers indicated a significant shift from a November 2005 poll that showed nearly two-thirds of adults supported the death penalty, and 61 percent said it was always the most appropriate punishment for first-degree murder. Just 27 percent preferred life in prison.
Poll director Hunter Bacot said North Carolinians are reviewing their positions on the death penalty in light of several exonerations and the botched case against three Duke University lacrosse players, in which a zealous prosecutor charged the men with rape despite flimsy evidence. Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the players innocent earlier this month - a year after they were charged.
"There's always been the sentiment that the system is fair for the most part," Bacot said. "But people are now looking back and wondering if people are truly getting a fair shake in the courts."
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Death Penalty in North Carolina
More analysis of the recent Elon Poll, specifically public opinion on the death penalty, as reported by the Associated Press.