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Large Majority of Americans Still Backs Death Penalty: HealthDay/Harris Poll

healthday/harris poll

MONDAY, June 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Despite recent headline-grabbing legal challenges and reports of "botched" executions, most Americans still support the death penalty, according to a new HealthDay/Harris Poll.

Of more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 61 percent said they believe in the death penalty, while only 17 percent oppose it.

Opinions were more mixed, however, when it came to a relatively new death-penalty issue: In the past few years, some drug companies have been refusing to supply the chemicals used for lethal injections -- which has left several states scrambling for replacement drugs and, reportedly, botching several executions. Many of those polled had either never heard of the issue, or did not know what to think of it.

The current drug shortage got its start several years ago. In 2011, the sole manufacturer of the anesthetic sodium thiopental -- part of the drug cocktail used in lethal injections -- stopped producing the drug. That decision followed months of pressure from death-penalty opponents.

Some drug-makers elsewhere in the world have also followed suit. As a result, several states have used untested drug combinations, which has led to reports of botched executions in which condemned prisoners suffered before dying.

"It seems that controversial reports of botched executions using injections have done little or nothing to reduce support for capital punishment or the use of injections as the preferred method of execution," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll.

While U.S. public opinion may be holding firm, change is happening elsewhere. The American Medical Association, the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Pharmacists Association all discourage their members from participating in executions.

The poll, conducted online between May 7 and 11, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,013 adults age 18 and older.

The complete findings of the newest joint HealthDay/Harris Poll are available here. HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Poll.

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About Harris Poll

Harris Poll is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit Harris Poll.

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