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.

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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