Sunday, January 24, 2010

Canadians support the death penalty?

I had no idea. Here's the article:

US, Britain and Canada Endorse Death Penalty
Most people in the United States, Britain and Canada support relying on the death penalty for homicide convictions, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 84 per cent of respondents in the U.S., 67 per cent in Britain, and 62 per cent in Canada share this view.

Since 1976, 1,193 people have been put to death in the United States, including five this year. More than a third of all executions have taken place in the state of Texas. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia do not engage in capital punishment.

Britain began a five-year moratorium on all death penalties from criminal convictions in 1965, and made the suspension permanent in 1969. Execution for any of five military offences—including "Serious Misconduct in Action" and "Obstructing Operations or Giving False Air Signals"—was repealed in 1998, though the last instance of its invocation occurred in 1942.

The last execution in Canada took place in 1962, and the country abolished the death penalty altogether in 1976.

Polling Data

Would you support punishing each of the following crimes with the death penalty? - Homicide (murder)












Not sure




Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,001 Canadian adults, 1,004 American adults, and 1,049 British adults, conducted from Aug. 13 to Aug. 16, 2009. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.

Here's the complete poll.

There are some that question the validity of the methodology of online polling that Angus Reid undertake. I'm not completely convinced myself, but I haven't talked to anyone about it or looked into it very much.

Also in the poll:

44% of Canadians say that, to the best of their knowledge, crime rates in their country have increased on the last five years (though it's fewer than in the US and UK, at 56 and 59% respectively).

Typically, they're wrong. According to StatsCan, crime was down 5% in 2008 (latest years for which there are total numbers), and has been on a general decline since its peak in 1991. It rose slightly in 2003 but has declined steadily since. Not only that, but the severity of crime has followed the same trend.*

62% believe long prison sentences are the most powerful way to reduce crime.

Don't get too alarmed. 79% believe rehabilitation is an important part of crime prevention, and 88% believe the justice system should focus, above else, on preventing crime.

Bit of a mixed bag, I suppose.

*Homicides were one of the few violent crimes to increase in 2008, though they make up less than 1% of violent crime.

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