Despite botched executions like the one Tuesday night in Oklahoma, a majority of Americans support the death penalty. Most people in favor of capital punishment believe that it is the only just penalty for some crimes, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2011. Other subjects of the survey cited other reasons, such as religious teaching.
By contrast, the question of whether executions discourage criminals
from violent acts is not up to the conscience to decide. Despite
extensive research on the question, criminologists have been unable to
assemble a strong case that capital punishment deters crime.
"We're very hard pressed to find really strong evidence of deterrence," said Columbia Law School's Jeffrey Fagan.