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What are some facts about the pro-death-penalty argument?

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Quick Answer

A Pew Research Center poll taken of over 2,000 American adults in Nov. 2011 found that 62 percent were in favor of the death penalty. Over 50 percent of those polled cited the argument that the death penalty was an appropriate punishment for violent crimes such as murder, and 15 percent justified it by citing overcrowding in prisons and the cost of maintaining inmates.

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Full Answer

Although a majority of proponents of the death penalty maintain that the punishment fits the crime of murder, detractors point out that often the innocent die as well as the guilty and that some criminals sentenced to death received improper jury trials. The U.S. Supreme Court addressed these concerns in 1972 by abolishing the death penalty. Citing the Eighth Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the existing court system. In 1976, after reformations at the state level to better protect the accused, the death penalty was reinstated for capital offenses only. Although the cost of keeping prisoners is a common pro-death-penalty argument, studies show that executing a prisoner is much more expensive than keeping him in prison for life after factoring in the cost of ongoing trials and appeals. As of January 2014, the death penalty is legal in 32 states, and 3,070 prisoners have been sentenced to death and await execution.

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