June 29, 2000 - New Jersey Voters Favor Death Penalty More Than 2 -1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; But Voters Are Split When Life Without Parole Is Option
New Jersey voters favor the death penalty 62 - 29 percent when asked if they "favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder," according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. Men favor the death penalty 72 - 24 percent while women favor it 55 - 34 percent.

Of those who favor the death penalty, 51 percent say their main reason is that it is a fitting punishment for murder, while only 15 percent cite deterrence as the main reason for their position.

Of those opposed to the death penalty, 53 percent cite moral or religious grounds, while 23 percent point to the fear of executing an innocent person as the main reason for their position.

When voters are asked if the penalty for murder should be death or "life imprisonment with absolutely no chance of parole," 44 percent favor the death penalty while 43 percent favor life without parole, with 13 percent undecided.

"Our poll shows the apparent consensus in favor of capital punishment is just a mirage. We found worries about false convictions and unfair application of the death penalty to minorities and the poor. And when we asked the public to consider an alternative punishment for murder, it is evenly divided between the death penalty and life without parole," said Quinnipiac University Professor Scott McLean.

By a 70 - 25 percent margin, New Jersey voters say a poor person is more likely than a person with more income to face the death penalty for the same crime, and by a 58 - 38 percent margin they say a black person is more likely than a white person to face the death penalty for the same crime.

By an 85 - 13 percent margin, New Jersey voters oppose televised executions and by a similar margin they say they would not watch a televised execution.

An overwhelming 93 percent of voters say persons convicted of crimes prior to the introduction of DNA testing should be allowed to have DNA testing now.

A similar 92 percent of voters believe that in the last 20 years innocent people have been sentenced to the death penalty.

"The reason there is so much support for giving everyone on Death Row a chance to be exonerated by DNA testing is that people are uneasy about whether the innocent are wrongly convicted in America," Dr. McLean said. "Most people think that the death penalty is applied too much on the poor and minorities, and almost everyone agrees that America has sentenced innocent people to death in the past 20 years.

"Women are even more apprehensive about these issues than men. Women are more likely than men to favor life without parole and less likely to believe that the death penalty deters murders. They also have less confidence that the courts correctly determine guilt."

From June 20- 26, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,004 New Jersey registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a public service and for research.

For additional data: www.quinnipiac.edu or (203) 582-5201

23. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Favor 62% 74% 49% 66% 72% 55%

Oppose 29 18 40 29 24 34

DK/NA 8 8 11 6 4 12



24. (If `favor' death penalty on Q23) What is the main reason why you favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?

                                Favor Death
                                Penalty on Q23


Retribution/Fair punishment 51% Deterrent for others to commit murders 15 Permanently removes murderers from society 8 Murderers cannot be rehabilitated 3 Taxpayers shouldn't pay for murderers to live in prison 13 Reduces prison population 1 Religious reasons(general) 1

Other 3 DK/NA 5



24. (If `oppose' death penalty on Q23) What is the main reason why you oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?

                                Oppose Death
                                Penalty on Q23


Moral reasons(general) 2% Religious reasons(general) 16 No one has right to take another's life 35 Fear of executing innocent person 23 Applied unfairly 5 Not a deterrent 2 Death Penalty is too expensive 1 Punishment is too extreme/ Cruel 2 Life in prison would be a harsher punishment 3 Rehabilitation can work 2

Other 3 DK/NA 6



25. What do you think should be the penalty for murder - the death penalty, or life imprisonment with absolutely no possibility of parole?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Death penalty 44% 56% 34% 45% 52% 38%

life imprisonment no parole 43 30 54 42 34 49

DK/NA 13 14 12 12 14 12



26. Which statement comes closest to your point of view?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom
All persons convicted 
 of murder should get 
 the death penalty         9%     10%     10%      8%     11%      7%


No one convicted of murder should get the death penalty 17 11 23 16 14 19

Whether or not someone convicted of murder gets the death penalty should depend on the circumstances of the case 72 77 65 75 73 71

DK/NA 2 2 2 2 2 2



27. In general, how confident are you that those convicted of murder and sentenced to life with no possibility of parole will spend the rest of their life in prison - very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?
                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Very confident 12% 11% 12% 12% 12% 12%

Smwht confident 33 29 36 34 31 35

Not too confident 34 34 36 35 32 35

Not at all confident 18 25 14 18 22 16

DK/NA 2 1 2 2 2 2



28. In general, how confident are you that those convicted of murder and sentenced to death are actually guilty? Very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?
                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Very confident 27% 45% 18% 25% 35% 21%

Smwht confident 48 43 49 51 45 51

Not too confident 17 7 24 17 13 20

Not at all confident 5 3 7 3 5 5

DK/NA 3 2 2 3 2 4



29. How often do you think that a person has been sentenced to the death penalty in the United States who was, in fact, innocent for the crime he or she was charged with - do you think this has ever happened in the past 20 years, or do you think it has never happened?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Has happened 92% 89% 96% 92% 92% 92%

No/Has never happened 5 7 3 4 6 4

DK/NA 3 4 1 4 2 4



30. Do you think that the death penalty deters others from committing murder or not?
                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Deters others 40% 56% 31% 37% 50% 33%

No/Doesn't deter others 56 40 66 60 47 63

DK/NA 3 4 3 2 3 4



Would you tell me whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.

31. A poor person is more likely than a person of average or above average income to receive the death penalty for the same crime

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Agree 70% 62% 74% 75% 72% 69%

No/Disagree 25 33 22 23 25 26

DK/NA 4 6 3 2 3 5



32. A black person is more likely than a white person to receive the death penalty for the same crime

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Agree 58% 47% 65% 61% 56% 60%

No/Disagree 38 48 32 36 40 36

DK/NA 4 5 3 4 4 4



33. Do you favor or oppose televising executions?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Favor 13% 16% 10% 13% 21% 6%

Oppose 85 81 88 85 75 92

DK/NA 3 3 2 2 3 2



34. Would you watch a televised execution or not?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes 16% 17% 13% 17% 26% 8%

No 83 80 87 82 72 91

DK/NA 2 3 - 1 2 1



35. Since George W. Bush became governor of Texas in 1995, Texas has had more executions than any other state. Does this make you more likely to vote for Bush for President, less likely, or doesn't it make a difference?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


More likely 9% 17% 6% 7% 13% 6%

Less likely 27 8 45 26 20 33

Doesn't make a difference 61 74 47 65 65 58

DK/NA 3 1 2 2 2 3



36. As you may know, DNA tests have only been recognized as evidence in the past few years. Do you think that prisoners who were convicted before DNA tests were ever conducted should - or should not - be allowed to get DNA tests now - if such tests might show they were innocent?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes/Should be allowed 93% 90% 95% 96% 92% 94%

No/Should not be allowed 4 5 5 3 6 3

DK/NA 3 5 1 2 2 3



37. To the best of your knowledge, does New Jersey have the death penalty or not, or don't you know?

                          Tot     Rep     Dem     Ind     Men     Wom


Yes 55% 60% 48% 60% 63% 50%

No 19 18 25 15 17 21

Don't know 25 22 27 25 20 29

REFUSED - - - - 1 -