for many Americans, agreement with the assertion that innocent people have been put to death does not preclude simultaneous endorsement of the death penalty. A third of all Americans, 34%, believe an innocent person has been executed and at the same time support the death penalty. This is higher than the 23% who believe an innocent person has been executed and simultaneously oppose the death penalty. Looked at differently, the data show that 57% of those who believe an innocent person has been executed also support the death penalty. This is significantly higher than the 39% who hold this belief and (perhaps more consistently) oppose the death penalty.This is why I've said it's regrettable that debate over the Willingham case isn't more focused on the arson science, a point Lisa Falkenberg reiterated in the Houston Chronicle this morning. Even if you're a death penalty opponent, this is not a winning strategy. Meanwhile, faulty arson forensics have resulted in numerous apparent false convictions, so it'd be unfortunate if those issues go unaddressed because the culture warriors want to fruitlessly squabble over the death penalty.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Poll: Execution of innocents wouldn't sway death penalty opinions
For those hoping the Todd Willingham case (or more generally, the execution of an innocent person) might spark public reconsideration of the death penalty, don't hold your breath. According to Gallup, as reported by Doug Berman: