Support for death penalty strong in NC

RALEIGH The survey - done by the conservative leaning Civitas Institute - comes on the heels of a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling last month that clears one of the legal obstacles that have blocked executions for more than two years.

The court found that the North Carolina Medical Board cannot sanction doctors from taking part in executions.

Civitas said Wednesday that its research shows more than two-thirds of voters approve of the death penalty. Pollsters called 600 voters. Sixty-four percent approved of capital punishment. Only 28 percent said they opposed. Eight percent said they were unsure.

"North Carolinians remain in strong support of capital punishment as an appropriate penalty," said Civitas Institute Executive Director Francis De Luca. "Supporters of the de facto moratorium that has been in place due to court challenges, which have now been resolved, face a public that now supports the death penalty slightly more than last year."

But death penalty opponents say the results of the Civitas poll doesn't show that support for the death penalty is not so strong when the public is asked specific questions about how it is applied.

Gerda Stein, with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said in a statement Wednesday that: "For example, they don't favor it in the case of people with serious mental illness and they don't favor it when race is a factor in the death sentence. And unfortunately, we know that many death sentences involve people who are mentally ill or where race was an adverse factor in the justice process."

She pointed to a liberal leaning Public Policy Polling poll done in 2007 that shows 52 percent of North Carolinians oppose the death penalty if the person was mentally disabled at the time of the crime.

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