It's been over seven years since New Jersey abolished the death penalty, and a new poll released Monday shows the majority of residents still support it.

Prisoner in jail
Dan Bannister, ThinkStock

In December 2007, New Jersey abolished its death penalty after legislation was passed and signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 32 states have the death penalty and 18 have abolished it. In 2013, Maryland became the last state to abolish the death penalty.

A poll that was taken in 2006 by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind asked Garden State residents their opinions on the death penalty. Eight years later, the same question was asked and it received almost the same responses.

"Right now, 57 percent of Garden Staters say they favor the death penalty for certain crimes with 36 percent who are opposed. Back in 2006, support came in at 54 percent," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science.

Partisanship, gender and racial divides are evident in the survey.

"Support is the strongest among Republicans, whites, men and Gen Xers with clear majorities of all these groups saying 'yes' to the ultimate penalty," Jenkins explained.  "Support is considerably less among Democrats, people of color and millennials."

Sixty-five percent of the white poll respondents are in support of the death penalty while 35 percent of black New Jerseyans say the same. More than three-quarters of Republicans favor capital punishment, but less than half of Democrats agree.

Other breakdown percentages included:

52 percent of Independents favor the death penalty;

  • 64 percent of men support it;
  • 51 percent of women are unopposed;
  • 48 percent of those ages 18 to 34 favor the death penalty;
  • 61 percent of those ages 35 to 59 support it;
  • 60 percent of New Jersey residents 60 and older are unopposed.

After a spate of botched executions across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court is now considering the constitutionality of the death penalty.

The poll was conducted by telephone from April 13 to 19, 2015 using a randomly selected sample of 1314 adults in New Jersey, including an oversampling of 403 African-Americans.


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