Most Canadians favour reinstating the death penalty for murder, according to a new poll by Research Co.
The survey found that 54% of Canadians — up three points since last February — support capital punishment on murder convictions.
Of all regions, Albertans support the death penalty the most at 62%, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba (60%), then Ontario and BC (58%). Over half (55%) of Atlantic Canada support doing so, while Québec lags considerably at 43%.
“Most supporters of the death penalty believe it will serve as a deterrent,” reads the survey report.
While most respondents believe the death penalty will serve as a deterrent for criminals, most prefer to see life imprisonment sentences (53%) instead of actually sentencing convicted killers to death (37%).
Most death-penalty supporters (55%) said the punishment fits the crime, and half said the death penalty would save Canadian tax dollars by omitting imprisonment costs.
“Almost three-in-five (59%) Canadians aged 55 and over — up four points —would welcome the return of the death penalty,” states Research Co. President Mario Canseco.
“The numbers are slightly lower among those aged 35-to-54 (54%, up three points) and those aged 18-to-34 (50%, up three points).”
On partisan support, Conservative voters most enthusiastically welcomed the punishment with 71% support — up eight points. But support fell three points to 49% for NDP voters and down a single digit to 48% for Liberals.
Regarding the type of punishment, 53% — up to one point — said they prefer murderers should be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In contrast, 37% would prefer the death penalty.
Fewer Canadians (25%) stated the death penalty is “never” appropriate, and fewer than one-in-ten (9%) deem it “always” appropriate — down two points.
However, most Canadians (58%) believe the death penalty is “sometimes” appropriate, up four points from last year. Whereas one-third of Canadians think reinstating capital punishment would be a mistake, of whom 66% expressed concerns about mistakenly condemning innocent Canadians to death.
Another 41% believe murderers should simply endure a prison sentence for their crimes.
While most supporters of capital punishment (57%) believe it would deter potential murders, 55% said it fits the crime because a convicted murderer has taken a life.
Additionally, over half of the respondents (51%) believe the death penalty will save taxpayers money compared to the costs of keeping a person behind bars.
Only 46% of supporters think it provides closure to the families of murder victims, while 30% believe murderers cannot be rehabilitated.
As the United States Office of Justice Programs writes, Canadians last issued the death penalty in 1962 to two men convicted of murder.
Fourteen years passed until 1976, when capital punishment underwent a ‘de jure’ abolition — the official ban of the practice since socially and culturally discarded.