A majority of Marylanders surveyed in a newly released poll say they favor retaining the death penalty in Maryland but appear to prefer life in prison without parole as a punishment for murder.
The poll released by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that 51 percent of those surveyed favored retaining capital punishment in Maryland compared to 43 percent who said they favored abolishing the law.
The poll released Wednesday afternoon comes just before the House of Delegates takes a scheduled preliminary vote on a bill to abolish the death penalty. That vote is scheduled for some time after 6 p.m.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed disagree that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder, while 37 percent think it does, according to the poll.
But in that same poll, 48 percent of Marylanders surveyed said they favor life in prison as a punishment for murder compared to 40 percent who favor the death penalty.
“During this past week, the Maryland General Assembly has taken the first steps to add Maryland to the list of 17 other states that have abolished the use of the death penalty,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “While citizens appear to overestimate its use, prefer life imprisonment without parole, and express doubts over whether the death penalty deters murder, half of Maryland residents do not want the death penalty taken completely off the table.”
The poll, conducted between March 3-7, involved 791 Maryland residents via landline phones and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.