A new Quinnipiac University poll says 61 percent of Connecticut residents surveyed support capital punishment, while 34 percent feel it should be abolished.
This month the General Assembly approved a bill which would abolish the death penalty, but Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell says she will veto it.
The new poll results are not much different from the 2007 poll which found 63 percent of residents support capital punishment, while 27 percent oppose it.
“Gov. Jodi Rell has said that she intends to veto the bill to abolish the death penalty and public opinion is on her side,” Doug Schwartz, Quinnipiac University poll director, said Thursday.
In an open-ended question, 23 percent of Connecticut voters who support the death penalty list retribution and/or fair punishment as their main reason for supporting it, while 23 percent say it costs too much to keep someone in prison for life.
The Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty says the later is simply not true. In a press release Thursday morning they said, “This result suggests that support for the death penalty is superficial among a considerable portion of the population.”
According to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, taxpayers in Connecticut pay $4 million annually to maintain the death penalty, despite the fact that the state rarely executes anyone. “If Connecticut voters are concerned about costs in the death penalty debate, as this poll implies, then the real message to Governor Rell may be to sign the repeal bill,” the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Penalty says in its press release.
Schwartz said polls are about people’s perceptions and people think that life in prison without the possibility of parole is more expensive. Schwartz said he also doubts all the residents surveyed understand which types of murders qualify for capital punishment.
The poll also found that of those opposed to the death penalty, 23 percent say no one has the right to take a human life, while 15 percent cite the fear of executing an innocent person.
The poll of 1,575 residents was conducted after the House passed the bill and a few days after the Senate passed the bill.