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Most Americans now oppose death penalty for murder

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A new poll shows more people favor life in prison over capital punishment.

For the first time, a majority of Americans now prefer life imprisonment over the death penalty for murder, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. 

In a marked change from previous polls, 60% of Americans said they would choose life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for murderers, while 36% would choose the death penalty.

In the 34 years since Gallup asked the question, the majority of those polled have supported the death penalty over life in prison for murderers.

A majority of Americans still said they support the death penalty, however. The survey question, first asked in 1936, asks whether the respondent is “in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder.”  

In the poll taken, October 14-31, 56% said they are in favor of the death penalty in murder cases. Support for the death penalty is declining, though. In 2014, 63% said they supported the death penalty. In 1994, that number peaked at 80% when crime was a top issue of concern to Americans.

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