The Republican and Democratic parties both officially support the death penalty. The Republican 2012 platform states that courts should "have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases." The Democratic Party’s 2012 platform, while not expressly supportive of capital punishment, argues that such a sentence ought to be administered fairly and responsibly. The platform stipulates such a decision should be supported by appropriate DNA testing and that defendants must be granted effective counsel. Sixty percent of Americans support the death penalty for convicted murderers, according to an October 2013 Gallup poll.
Republican Views on Death Penalty
About 81 percent of Republicans favor the death penalty, making up a majority of Americans who support the practice. Republican supporters often argue that capital punishment deters murder because no one wants to face the consequence of death, an assertion the American Civil Liberties Union reports is not based on fact. Although some question the morality of sentencing a human to death, those in favor of the death penalty argue the punishment is morally acceptable for certain crimes, such as rape or murder.
Democratic Views on Death Penalty
Democratic support for capital punishment has dropped significantly since the mid-1990s. Forty-seven percent of Democrats surveyed by Gallup in 2013 said they approved of the punishment, a 28-point drop from its 1994 peak. Democratic support reportedly has dwindled as information about wrongful executions has come to light -- at least 10 potentially innocent men have been killed since 1976. Some Democrats also argue the cost of housing, providing counsel and even obtaining the drugs to execute prisoners is exorbitant. Instead, they claim sentencing a prisoner to life in prison is more economically feasible.
Use of Death Penalty
Just more than half of Americans think the death penalty usually is applied fairly, slightly less than the overall 60 percent of the population that supports the policy. In fact, 44 percent of Americans reportedly do not think the death penalty is imposed often enough for capital crimes. Meanwhile, 22 percent think the sentence is applied too often. Thirty-seven death row inmates were put to death in 2013.
Republican States Have Most Prisoner Executions
Thirty-two states have the death penalty on their legal code. Republican-dominated states have performed an enormous majority of U.S. prisoner executions since 1976. Of the 1,359 executions since that date -- the number reported by the Death Penalty Information Center as of Dec. 18, 2013 -- 1,110 occurred in Republican-dominated Southern states. About one-third of those sentences were in Texas, where 508 death row inmates have been put to death in the past 37 years. Twelve people who were eventually proved innocent were released from the state's death row during that period.
- Republican National Committee: Republican Platform 2012
- The Nation: The Democratic Platform - The Good and the Bad
- Gallup: U.S. Death Penalty Support Lowest in More Than 40 Years
- ProCon.org: Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?
- Death Penalty Information Center: Executed But Possibly Innocent
- Death Penalty Information Center: Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976
- Death Penalty Information Center: State-by-State Database