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Poll: Most in U.S. favor life in prison for killers, over death penalty

By Don Jacobson
Poll: Most in U.S. favor life in prison for killers, over death penalty
Gallup said the 60 percent preference rating is the highest it's ever seen in 34 years of research. File Photo by Paul Buck/EPA

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- For the first time in more than three decades of polling, Gallup said a majority of U.S. respondents now believe life imprisonment is a better punishment for convicted murderers than the death penalty.

The pollster said Monday its research shows, for the first time in the 34 years it's asked which is preferable, that 60 percent of respondents favored imprisonment. Just 36 percent chose capital punishment.

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The results mark a distinct shift from the past decades. During the 1980s and 1990s, Gallup recorded consistent majorities favoring the death penalty as the better option for convicted killers.

Gallup found last month, however, a majority of respondents still supported the death penalty when asked if they approve its use for convicted murderers. In that survey, 56 percent answered "yes." That level has remained steady for three years, but is down from a high of 80 percent in 1994.

Monday's poll followed a federal court ruling last week that imposed a moratorium on all federal executions and froze an attempt by the Trump administration to resume the practice at the national level.

Gallup surveyed more than 1,500 U.S. adults and said the poll has a margin of error of 3 points.

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