North Carolinians would rather have convicted killers pay restitution to their victims' families if they spend the rest of their lives behind bars, according to a new poll.
A survey by Public Policy Polling found 68 % of North Carolina residents support replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole, if offenders are required to work and pay restitution to the families of their victims. A majority of respondents who identified themselves as politically conservative said they favor ending the death penalty and redirecting dollars spent on it to helping victims.
"All over the country, the death penalty is rapidly losing support, and North Carolina is no exception," said Tye Hunter, executive director of the Durham-based Center for Death Penalty Litigation, which provides free legal representation to death row inmates. "Sensible people of all political affiliations see that the death penalty is not effective in deterring crime and is a poor use of taxpayer money."
Public Policy Polling surveyed 600 North Carolinians by telephone between Feb. 7-10. 44 % of respondents identified themselves as conservative while 26 % identified as liberal. The remainder called themselves moderates. The poll revealed:
--68 % supported ending the death penalty so defendants could work and pay restitution.
--63 % supported ending the death penalty if the money now spent on capital punishment was redirected to crime fighting.
--55 % supported ending the death penalty if the money was redirected to solving cold cases and assisting victims.
Among conservatives, support for abolishing capital punishment was strongest if offenders were required to pay restitution. 65 % of those who called themselves "somewhat conservative" and 50 % of those who were "very conservative" supported switching to life in prison without parole.
"The days when the death penalty enjoyed near-universal support are clearly over. Across the country, poll after poll has shown that," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. "These results show that people in North Carolina are willing to consider alternatives to capital punishment.
More states are moving toward abolishing capital punishment. Maryland is on the verge of becoming the 5th state to abolish the death penalty in 6 years. No one has been executed in North Carolina since 2006 and no new death sentences were handed down in 2012, which hadn't happened in 35 years. There are 152 men and women on North Carolina's death row.
"The goal of both parties is to keep the people of North Carolina safe, and it is clear that the death penalty is no longer the best way to do that," Hunter said. "It's time to work together to find more efficient and effective ways to deter crime and help victims."
Source: The Charlotte Post, March 4, 2013