According to a Gallup poll, a sizable majority of American - sixty percent - say they favor the death penalty for murderers, but this is actually the lowest level of support since 1972, when capital punishment in this instance was favored by 57 percent of Americans. Moreover, support for the death penalty has fallen steeply from its peak in 1994, when 80 percent of the country was in favor.

So what accounts for the change? In 1994, the country was coming out of a deep crime wave. The murder rate has dropped substantially since then. In addition, DNA evidence has been used to overturn many criminal convictions, possibly leading to a sizable portion of the public to question the criminal justice system.

According to Gallup's own analysis, "fifty-two percent of Americans believe the death penalty is applied fairly in the United States -- a smaller figure than the 60% who favor the death penalty."

What do you think?

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