Poll Reveals Lack of Strong Support for Death Penalty
Voter Education Campaign Set to Defeat Capital Punishment Effort
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LANSING—In light of a petition drive seeking to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow the death penalty in our state, the Michigan Catholic Conference, a leading opponent to capital punishment, today released polling statistics that indicate in spite of emotional attachment to the issue a voter education campaign will undoubtedly defeat such a measure.
According to the poll 53 percent of respondents strongly support the death penalty. That strong support diminishes to 41 percent when respondents are informed that existing Michigan statute currently mandates life without parole for convicted offenders of first-degree murder. Among those who support the death penalty 26 percent believe it is a deterrent, 30 percent believe it to be a form of punishment and 41 percent believe in the death penalty as both a punishment and a deterrent.
“The results of this polling data prove that informed Michigan citizens do not favor a culture of death or state-sanctioned killing in Michigan,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Vice-President for Public Policy Paul A. Long. “By coordinating a voter education campaign on this important issue, the Catholic Conference is adamant in its belief that even if a petition drive is successful, informed and educated voters will defeat any such attempt to change Michigan’s Constitution.”
Marketing Resource Group conducted the statewide poll of 600 likely voters from March 8 through March 14, 2004. Given the sample size of 600, the poll has a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent, with a 95 percent degree of confidence.
The death penalty has been banned in our state since 1846 and has been constitutionally prohibited since 1963. “The petition drive underway is an attempt to play on the emotion of citizens based on selected heinous events,” said Long. “This poll suggests that, once educated on the issue, residents of our state arrive at a more logical and reasoned conclusion as how best to punish violent crime.”
“We do not challenge society’s right to punish the serious and violent offender,” said Long. “But, to serve as an effective deterrent to crime, any punishment must be swift, sure and even-handed. Capital punishment fails in all these categories. For a government with the power to kill is a government with too much power.”
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.