A majority of Utahns support the death penalty, but they are split on which method of execution the state should use.
Last month the Supreme Court ruled states could continue to use lethal injection drugs in executions. However, the chemicals used in that method of execution have become scarce due to manufacturers refusing to sell them for executions.
In response, Utah lawmakers brought back the firing squad as an alternative means of implementing the death penalty in case the ingredients for lethal injection were not available. Lawmakers passed a bill reinstating the firing squad during the 2015 session.
We asked Utah residents which method of execution they preferred the state use in capital punishment cases, lethal injection or firing squad, or whether the death penalty should be abolished completely.
68% of Utahns expressed support for either the firing squad or death penalty while just 17% said the death penalty should be abolished completely.
Specifically, nearly 40% told us they felt lethal injection was the proper method of execution while another 29% responded they favored the firing squad.
– Republicans favor lethal injection over firing squad by a 46-34% margin.
– 46% of Democrats prefer abolishing the death penalty. 27% like lethal injection and 20% say they want the state to use firing squads in executions.
– 42% of independent voters say the state should use lethal injection while 25% say firing squad.
Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, 31 states have capital punishment laws on the books. 19 states have either abolished the practice or had their statutes struck down by the courts. Only one state, Michigan, has never had a death penalty law on the books.
In 2015, the Nebraska legislature repealed that state's death penalty law over Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto.
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from July 14-21, 2015 among 610 Utah residents. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.97%.