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Australians say penalty for murder should be Imprisonment (64%) rather than the Death Penalty (23%)

This special telephone Morgan Poll was conducted in mid August, 2009, with an Australia-wide cross section of 687 respondents aged 14 and over.

A clear majority of Australians (64%, down 5% since December 2005) say imprisonment should be the penalty for murder compared to just 23% (down 2% - and the lowest ever recorded by Roy Morgan) who say the death penalty, while 13% (up 7%) can’t say according to a special Roy Morgan telephone poll conducted in mid August.

Australians aged 14 and over were first asked “Next about the penalty for murder.  In your opinion, should the penalty for murder be death or imprisonment?” and then asked “Where the penalty for murder is imprisonment — should it be for life — or should the judge fix the number of years, depending on the evidence?”

A majority of Australians (53%, down 3%) say the judge should “fix the number of years, depending on the evidence” while 44% (up 2%) say the penalty should be “life imprisonment” and 3% (up 1%) can’t say.

Australians still support the tough penalties for drug trafficking in many South-East Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore with 50% (down 11%) of Australians agreeing that “If an Australian is convicted of trafficking drugs in another country and sentenced to death, the penalty should be carried out while 44% (up 9%) say the death penalty should not be carried out and 6% (up 2%) can’t say.

 

Gary Morgan says:

“Now only 23% (down 2%) of Australians support the death penalty as the penalty for murder — this is the lowest ever recorded in Roy Morgan polling over the past 60+ years.

“Interestingly though, Australian support for South-East Asian countries using the death penalty to deal with drug trafficking by Australians remains strong. Although support for the death penalty being used in these situations in four years is down 11% to 50%, it remains clearly ahead of the 44% (up 9%) of Australians that say the death penalty should not be carried out.

“Australian attitudes towards the death penalty being used in relation to trafficking of drugs are sure to be tested in the future as three Australians — Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran all face the death penalty as part of the “Bali Nine” drug-trafficking ring.”

 

This special telephone Morgan Poll was conducted in mid August, 2009, with an Australia-wide cross section of 687 respondents aged 14 and over.

 

Death Penalty or Imprisonment For Murder

Respondents were first asked:  “Next about the penalty for murder.  In your opinion, should the penalty for murder be death or imprisonment?”

 

All Australians

 

Dec

‘47*

Feb

‘53*

Apr

‘62*

Nov

‘75

Oct

‘80

Jan

‘86

Jul

‘86

Jul

‘87

Feb

‘89

Feb

‘90

Jun

‘90

May

‘92

May

‘93

Aug

‘95

Nov

‘05

Dec‘05

Aug

‘09

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Death Penalty

67

68

53

40

43

43

44

49

52

53

51

46

54

53

27

25

23

Imprisonment

24

24

37

43

40

41

40

37

34

35

35

39

36

36

66

69

64

Can’t say

9

8

10

17

17

16

16

14

14

12

14

15

10

11

7

6

13

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

* Samples for 1947, 1953 and 1962 were electors aged 21 and over, from 1975 onwards the sample was all Australians aged 14 and over.

 

Life Imprisonment or Judge to Fix Term

Respondents were then asked: “Where the penalty for murder is imprisonment — should it be for life — or should the judge fix the number of years, depending on the evidence?”

 

All Australians 14+

 

Nov

‘75

Oct

‘80

Jan

‘86

Jul

‘86

Jul

‘87

Feb

‘89

Jun

‘90

May

‘92

May

‘93

Aug

‘95

Nov

‘05

Nov

‘05

Aug

‘09

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Life

37

43

51

54

53

52

59

54

58

60

49

42

44

Judge to fix number of years

55

49

42

46

43

43

37

43

39

37

48

56

53

Can’t say

8

8

7

-

4

5

4

3

3

3

3

2

3

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

 

Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking?

Respondents were then asked:  “In Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore and some other countries, the penalty for drug trafficking is death.  If an Australian is convicted of trafficking drugs in another country and sentenced to death, in your opinion, should the penalty be carried out or not?”*

 

All Australians 14+

 

Jan

‘86

Jul

‘86

Jul

‘87

Feb

‘89

Jun

‘90

May

‘92

May

‘93

Aug

‘95

Nov

‘05

Dec

‘05

Aug

‘09

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Death Penalty should be carried out

73

80

80

79

75

76

70

66

57

61

50

Death Penalty should notbe carried out

21

16

17

17

21

19

26

29

36

35

44

Can’t say

6

4

3

4

4

5

4

5

7

4

6

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

* This question initially referred to Malaysia only. Sri Lanka was added in 1989 and Indonesia and Singapore were added in 2005.

 

The Morgan Poll is conducted by the ONLY Australian and New Zealand member of the Gallup International Association.

No other public opinion poll taken in Australia and New Zealand has this qualification.

 

For further information:

Gary Morgan:          Office (03) 9224 5213       Mobile 0411 129 094

Michele Levine:     Office (03) 9224 5215       Mobile 0411 129 093