For Immediate Release Thursday, March 1, 2018
Contact: Stephen K. Harper at [email protected] or 305-401-1600
New Poll Shows Miami-Dade County Voters Prefer Life Sentences Over the Death Penalty by 3 to 1 Margin; Want State Attorney to Reduce or Eliminate Use of the Death Penalty
Voters Also Oppose the Death Penalty for Persons with Mental Illness, and Youth Under 21
Florida — A poll released today shows that three-quarters of Miami-Dade County voters (75%) prefer some version of life in prison over the the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. Only 21% of respondents chose the death penalty as their preferred punishment. Sixty-five percent of surveyed voters also expressed support for redirecting the funds currently spent on death penalty cases to solving more rapes and murders.
The poll also found that voters opposed seeking the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness by a huge margin (70% to 17%) — a difference of 53 points.
View the full results: https://www.scribd.com/document/372710919/Miami-PPP-Poll-on-the-Death-Penalty-2018
Fifty-one percent of voters also opposed seeking the death penalty for persons who were under the age of 21 at the time of their crimes, compared to just 38% who were not opposed.
Notably, a majority of voters would either strongly (40%) or somewhat (28%) support a decision by their local State Attorney to reduce or eliminate use of the death penalty.
This is the fifth poll in the last two years where voters in all or part of Florida expressed a strong preference for life sentences over the death penalty. A 2018 poll of Pinellas County voters released earlier this week revealed similar responses. See also PPP Florida Poll February 2016 , University of Florida Survey Research Center Poll August 2016 , and PPP Osceola and Orange Counties Poll April 2017 .
“After evaluating other recent polls on this issue, it has become clear that a trend has emerged in Florida as voters increasingly prefer alternatives to the death penalty. Whether due to the high cost, the legal chaos, or the risk of executing innocent people, many voters simply don’t think the death penalty is a useful tool anymore,” said Stephen K. Harper , director of the Florida Center for Capital Representation at FIU College of Law .
Mark Elliott, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said “The survey results make clear that the state attorney’s office is ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of Miami constituents who prefer life sentences for those convicted of murder. Expensive death penalty trials do nothing to prevent violent crime, protect law enforcement, or help victims’ families in meaningful ways, and mistakes are also all-too-common.”
Last May, Ralph Wright, Jr. became the 27th innocent person exonerated and released from Florida’s death row.
A report by Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project released in 2016 named Miami-Dade County as one of the nation’s 16 outlier counties due to its frequent usage of the death penalty.
The poll was conducted on January 22-23, 2018 by Public Policy Polling. It surveyed 268 Miami-Dade County voters and has a margin of error of +/- 6.0%. The poll was commissioned by the Florida Center for Capital Representation at FIU College of Law with the support of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
For additional information please contact: Stephen K. Harper at [email protected] or 305-401-1600 .