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Courts and Crime

Ohioans support the death penalty but prefer other options
Latest Quinnipiac poll shows support growing for life in prison

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

Ohioans continue to support the death penalty by a margin of 2-1. But WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that -- when offered a choice-- they’re more likely to pick life in prison.

LISTEN: Ohioans and the death penalty

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The latest Quinnipiac Poll says 69 percent of the Ohio voters support the death penalty in cases of murder. That’s about where it was three months ago -- and includes majorities of men, women, Democrats, Republicans and independents, and all age groups.

But support is much lower when people are asked which option is preferable: Death, life with no chance of parole or life with a chance of parole?

Then, support for execution drops to 43 percent, down 4 percent from poll results in February. Support for the life sentence options is 49 percent, up from February.

When given those other options, support for a death sentence is lowest among people who are 18 to 29, and among women and Democrats.

Listener Comments:

I read your article with interest, since I have been a death penalty lawyer for many years now. I’m not sure why you say the death penalty is supported by a 69% majority - as you point out, when people are given the choice between life without parole and the death penalty, only 43% support capital punishment. This is the choice that matters, because the alternative to the death penalty is not running and dancing in a meadow, but life imprisonment without a chance for parole. This is like asking people if they support mandatory punishments for drug dealers - most will say they do. But if asked if they support mandatory punishments for all drug dealers regardless of circumstances, or letting a judge consider all the circumstances before imposing punishment, most people support the latter. In other words, we learn what people actually think when they are given a relevant choice. So in fact Ohioans do not support the death penalty by more than two to one - only 43% are in favor of it when asked which relevant punishment they prefer. In my opinion, your article should have been entitled “A Majority Of Ohioans Don’t Support The Death Penalty."

I point this out because as long as our politicians are misinformed about the support for the death penalty, they will continue to vote contrary to the public’s wishes.


Marc Bookman
Atlantic Center for Capital Representation

Posted by: Marc Bookman (Philadelphia) on May 14, 2014 9:05AM
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