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For or against the death penalty: Evidence from Taiwan

  • Reports and Studies
  • 19 Jun 2019

The Death Penalty Project, in association with the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP), has published a study of public attitudes towards the death penalty in Taiwan.

The aim of the research is to provide a robust analysis of public opinion, going beyond the simple “for or against” questions upon which opinion polls are typically based. This study challenges the assumption that it is necessary to retain the death penalty because public opinion reflects a high level of support, interest and concern about the issue.

Key findings include:

– Opposition to abolition is not as strong as it initially appears:
Whilst the survey found that a majority of the population favours retention of the death penalty, only a minority (32%) of Taiwanese citizens were strongly opposed to abolition. When respondents considered abolition in light of the case of Chiang Kuo-Ching (江國慶), an innocent man executed in Taiwan in 1997, the number that strongly opposed abolition fell to just 6%.

– Public knowledge about the death penalty is limited:
Only 0.2% of respondents were able to answer four basic, factual questions on the death penalty correctly.

– Support for the death penalty is not entrenched:
When presented with five ‘real-life’ murder scenarios, the research found that there is only low or moderate support for inflicting the death penalty. In one case where concerns were raised about the poor mental health of the defendant, support for the death penalty fell from 83% to only 34%.

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