Published 7:55 am Monday, March 11, 2013
By Stephanie Carroll Carson
NC News Service
A majority of people in North Carolina support ending the death penalty in the state, according to a poll released this week.
Of the 600 people polled, 68 percent said they would rather the state replace capital punishment with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to Dustin Ingalls, assistant director of Public Policy Polling, the organization that conducted the poll, public opinion appears to be shifting.
“More and more, support for death penalty is decreasing, and that sort of falls in line with opposition on other social issues,” he said.
Support for abolishing the death penalty crosses party lines, according to the poll, with even a majority of conservative respondents in favor of ending capital punishment. Another poll result: people said they would rather see the money used to put people to death spent on crime prevention instead.
Tye Hunter, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said that, while public opinion seems to be shifting, it may take a while for that shift to be reflected in the legislature.
“The death penalty has been a reliable political issue for conservative lawmakers for a long time,” he noted. “It’s going to be hard for them to believe that things have changed.”
If the 152 men and women on North Carolina’s death row were given life sentences, Hunter said, they could work the rest of their lives to pay restitution for their crimes. No one has been executed in North Carolina in seven years, and for the first time in 35 years no new death sentences were handed down last year.
Poll results are at PublicPolicyPolling.com.