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Poll: Most Utahns support death penalty

By Jennifer Stagg | Posted - Jun. 10, 2010 at 10:00 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- While the legal battle over the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner continues, in the debate over capital punishment a lopsided majority of Utahns support the death penalty.

Utah is one of 35 states with a death penalty statute, but the findings of a new Dan Jones Poll for KSL News and the Deseret News show strong support for it.

The death penalty is reserved for the most heinous crimes -- in Utah, some cases of aggravated murder.

Utah currently has 10 inmates on death row. That number will soon drop to nine if Ronnie Lee Gardner loses his appeal for clemency.

According our poll, 79 percent of those surveyed said they are in favor of the death penalty; 2 percent said they are indifferent; and 16 percent oppose it.

Thursday, KSL News also asked a few Utahns in downtown Salt Lake City their feelings about the death penalty.

"Depending on what the crime is, and depending if you can rehabilitate the person -- if it's for a crime where they've hurt people, and they're a predator, and they're a psychopath, you can't help them -- then I am for the death penalty," Debbie Noel said.

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When asked in the survey if they believe the application of the death penalty in the United States is fair, 66 percent said yes and 24 percent said no.

"I see both point of views," Ryan Mooney said. "I see good in the death penalty because you do have to punish people who do things like that. But it's also bad to take another person's life."

"When they do do the death penalty, they use it for the most extreme cases, [when] people have done the most extreme crimes. So, they're going to get the most extreme punishment," Noel said.

More than half of the Utahns polled said they don't think the death penalty is imposed enough. But while the majority of them support the death penalty, they're fairly split as to whether capital punishment actually deters others from committing murder.

"I don't think it does, ‘cause they're going to do whatever they want despite that," Connor Temple said.

"I don't think it has much of an effect," Noel said. "I don't think it does deter."

When asked to imagine for a moment if they were a death row inmate, whether they would rather die by lethal injection or firing squad, only 16 percent chose firing squad, as Ronnie Lee Gardner did.

"Lethal injection is way easier to go to," Temple said.

For complete poll results, . E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com

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Jennifer Stagg

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