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Studies about death penalty show mixed opinion

According to a new fact sheet released by the Death Penalty Information Center, police chiefs ranked the death penalty last in ways to reduce violent crime.

A Gallup poll showed that the public agrees, as 64 percent of the public felt that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent or lower the murder rate, while 34 percent believe it does. The majority of criminology experts, 88 percent, "rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder," according to the DPIC fact sheet.

Others prefer other options, like San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who said he "would consider it in a 'very heinous' case."

The fact sheet said "a clear majority of (public) voters (61 percent) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder."

Gallup found that in October 2010, 49 percent would chose the death penalty, and 46 percent prefer life imprisonment.

The fact sheet also pointed out that execution consistently costs states more than a life sentence, sometimes up to 70 percent more. The Gallup poll found that 11 percent of people said they favor the death penalty to "save taxpayers money (or the) cost associated with prison," and 37 percent favored it because "they took a life (it) fits the crime."

The fact sheet also indicates a decline in executions nationally from 2009 to 2010, that 16 states no longer have the death penalty and that the exoneration rate went up from 3.1 per year to 5 per year between 2000 and 2007.