Abolitionist Action Committee member Bo Chamberlin of Columbus, Ohio, fasts with other death penalty opponents in front of the U.S. Supreme Court June 29, 2009 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
By Rishi Iyengar
April 17, 2015

Public backing for capital punishment in the U.S. has dipped to its lowest in 40 years, according to a new report, although a small majority of Americans still believe in it.

According to a study released by the Pew Research Center, just 56% of U.S. citizens support the death penalty — a decline of 6% since 2011. During the 1980s and 1990s, in comparison, that number often crossed 70%.

The study, which surveyed 1,500 adults across the U.S., found that the decline has come mainly among Democrats — 40% of Democrats support the death penalty while 56% oppose it, a sharp contrast from the 1996 survey that showed 71% of them for and just 25% against.

Overall, 71% of Americans say the risk of an innocent person being put to death is high, and 61% say the death penalty does not deter individuals from committing serious crimes.

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