California Attitudes Shift On Death Penalty For 1st Degree Murder

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SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – More than two-thirds of California voters favor keeping the death penalty despite a growing preference for life without parole for certain crimes, a new survey shows.

The Field Poll results released Thursday, while generally consistent with similar polls over the past decade, found more Californians now support life without the possibility of parole for a defendant convicted of first degree murder.

“That represents a change in public attitudes over the last 11 years,” said poll director Mark DiCamillo.

DiCamillo said the shift appears tied to a growing belief that life without parole means the convicted person will never get out of prison. He noted that African Americans and Latinos were more likely to say they favored lifelong incarceration over capital punishment.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

For more than 50 years, the Field Poll has consistently found public support for the death penalty in California. This most recent poll found 68 percent of those surveyed support keeping the death penalty, with 27 percent opposed.

Those results suggest a challenge for opponents of capital punishment, who are trying to gather signatures for a November 2012 ballot initiative. They want to abolish it and convert death sentences to life in prison.

The poll surveyed 1,001 registered voters by telephone from Sept. 1-12. It has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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