What does the public think about capital punishment in various countries around the world? This paper will examine the outcomes of recent surveys and polls.
In Guatemala, a poll on the death penalty taken in Guatemala City, the capital, in June, found that 74% of those interviewed were in favour of the death penalty. 78.5% supported the execution of two men the previous week, who had been sentenced to death for kidnapping. However only 20.5% thought that the executions would cause crime rates to fall. The poll was conducted by the Departamento de Mercado of the Prensa Libre (a Guatemalan newspaper).
In Uzbekistan, on 5 December the results of a poll were published in the newspaper ''Vatanparvar''. The aim of the survey had been to ascertain public attitudes to the punishment for terrorism. It was carried out by the Ijtimoiy Fikr Public Opinion Study Centre and was held just before a session of Parliament scheduled to take place on 14 December which was expected to adopt a draft law on the fight against terrorism. The question the public were asked was what kind of punishment the law should envisage for those citizens of a country who, with weapons in their hands, belonged to organized extremist and terrorist bandit formations which wanted to overthrow the government and change existing social and political systems. 57 per cent said the punishment should be death and 20 per cent said it should be life imprisonment. It was reported that the survey was conducted in Tashkent and all the regions and involved representatives of all sections of the population - residents of towns and villages, women and men, people of different ages and ethnic origin.
In the USA, several national ...
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... the threat of the death penalty rarely deters criminals.
In another survey carried out in September, the US Justice Department released the findings of its review of the federal death penalty. The survey showed marked racial and geographical disparities in the application of the death penalty at federal level. Around 80% of federal death row inmates were from racial or ethnic minorities and such minorities accounted for about three quarters of the cases in which federal prosecutors sought the death penalty. An example of geographical disparities is that just three federal judicial districts, in Virginia, Puerto Rico and Missouri, accounted for nearly a quarter of the 183 cases since 1995 in which the prosecutor recommended that a death sentence be sought. Federal prosecutors in nearly half of the USA's 94 such districts have never recommended the death penalty.
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