Fri, Apr 22, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Nearly 90% against abolishing death penalty: poll

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Nearly 90 percent of Taiwanese oppose the abolition of the death penalty, a National Development Council survey released yesterday showed.

The poll, conducted last week, found that 87.9 percent of respondents oppose abolition, mainly because they think it would undermine public safety and embolden people to commit criminal acts, the council said in a statement.

“Less than 5 percent of those surveyed support abolition, citing reasons such as the death penalty cannot effectively deter crime, that it goes against human rights and that the government has no right to deprive people of their lives,” the council said.

The survey showed that 82 percent of respondents think the death penalty could deter crime, while 11 percent believe otherwise.

If the law is amended to change the death penalty to “life in prison without the possibility of parole,” as many as 69 percent still disapprove of abolishing it, while 25 percent support abolition.

The poll showed that 83.6 percent of respondents support a proposal that major offenses, such as random killings or child murders, be subject to a mandatory death penalty, while 10.3 percent disagree.

The poll has a sample size of 3,013 and a margin of error of 1.79 percentage points.

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty executive director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) questioned the timing and design of the survey.

“The council calls itself the national headquarters for formulating strategies for development, but what it has done here is worse than a poll center,” Lin said on Facebook.

“The results are not surprising, as support for the death penalty in the nation has always been about 70 to 80 percent,” Lin said. “Moreover, if you conduct a survey on the death penalty after a major crime has been committed or after executions, then the public would tend to give more extreme reactions.”

“The content of the poll was also too simplistic to be of any significance,” she said, adding that the reasons cited for support for the death penalty are the same prevailing myths that the public has long held on to.

“What the council should have done is more than just issue a press release; it should have — along with other government agencies, particularly the Ministry of Justice — released other information to engage the public, such as explaining that abolition of the death penalty would not undermine public safety, that capital punishment is not the only recourse for justice for the victim’s family, and that inmates do work in prisons [contrary to the belief that they get a free ride on taxpayers’ money],” she said.

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