For the first time ever British people no longer agree with the death penalty

Here’s how support for the death penalty is dropping

The support for capital punishment among the general public has fallen to 48% - the first time it’s been below half.

In 1986, when NatCen first polled the public, 74% of Britain backed the death penalty for “some crimes”. This fell to 59% by 1998 and 54% in 2013.

The previous low before this year was 52% in 2001.

Death penalty

Are we getting more compassionate or just freaked out by grizzly death-penalty-gone-wrong stories?

Rachel Ormston, co-head of social attitudes at NatCen Social Research said it wasn’t immediately clear why attitudes are softening.

“The big change in public attitudes to the death penalty came in the 1990s at a time when attitudes to a range of other issues, like same-sex relationships and sex before marriage were also liberalising,” she said.

“This more recent change is interesting because attitudes have stayed fairly steady for a number of years. It could be the continuation of this liberalising trend or, perhaps, a response to the shocking botched executions in the United States that were widely reported in April and July of last year.”

Many US states have struggled to get the drugs they need to execute prisoners after Europe (which manufactures them) refused to sell them. This has led to horrific reports of botched executions using “experimental” cocktails of drugs.


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