Death Penalty

Few public policy issues have inflamed passions as consistently and as strongly as capital punishment. Religious communities have been deeply involved on both sides of the debate, drawing on teachings and traditions of justice and the dignity of human life. The debate over the death penalty has been complicated in recent years by questions regarding both the fairness of the criminal justice system and the possibility of reform and rehabilitation among death row inmates.

Two-thirds of Americans (68%) support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a July 2005 poll by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. However, public support for the death penalty was somewhat stronger in the late 1990s (74% in 1999). Most Americans continue to oppose the death penalty for those convicted of offenses when they were under age 18, and the Supreme Court cited a national consensus when it abolished the death penalty for minors in March 2005.

The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project offers a number of resources that examine various moral and religious perspectives on the death penalty, including polling data, articles, event transcripts and the latest news.



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