originally by: Star-Telegram
published: 26th December 2011
The American public’s opinion on the death penalty has been changing steadily in the past 17 years. A 2011 Gallup Poll showed that 61 percent of people in the country favor capital punishment, down from 80 percent in 1994. A majority of Americans still believe that capital punishment is a justified and proportionate option for those who commit the most heinous premeditated crimes.
But they also believe that if the state is going to exact a punishment from which there is no turning back, the criminal justice system must be as fair as humanly possible.
And when jurors are given an effective alternative to a sentence of death — life without the possibility of parole — they use it.
The Death Penalty Information Center reported last week that death sentences in this country had declined by about 75 percent since 1996, when 315 people received capital sentences for their crimes. Executions nationwide, according to the center, decreased by 56 percent since 1999 to 78 in 2011.