Execution Not The End Of The Story

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant tapes a scene with actor Jeremy Piven for the HBO series "Entourage" at the Staples Center before the Lakers basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Tuesday, April 11, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

Most Americans are satisfied with the process that has led up to Monday's scheduled execution of Timothy McVeigh for the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Office Building in Oklahoma City. By more than seven to one, they say the criminal justice system in this instance has worked as it should in a death penalty case.


Has The System Worked As It Should In A Death Penalty Case?
Yes 81% — No 11%

All polls, including this one, have shown overwhelming support for the death penalty for McVeigh. More than three-quarters of the public favor executing McVeigh, and a similar number say that the execution should not be delayed any longer.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Should McVeigh's Execution Be Delayed?

 %
Yes

18%


 %
No

77%

CBSNEWS Polls

One reason for the public's willingness to lethe execution take place now is that few think there is anything in the FBI documents that were found and turned over to McVeigh's attorneys last month that sheds any new light on the case. Just 15 percent think there is probably new evidence in those documents.

But a majority believes there may continue to be lingering questions about the case even after McVeigh is executed. While more than four in ten believe that McVeigh's execution will end the case, 53 percent say questions about who committed the bombing will still remain.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
Will McVeigh's Execution End The Case?

 %
Yes

43%


 %
Questions Will Remain

53%

CBSNEWS Polls

Those who oppose the death penalty in general and this execution in particular are more likely to think questions will continue.


The Criminal Justie System And The FBI

This poll suggests that images of the criminal justice system and the FBI have improved recently. Eighty percent of respondents now say they have at least some confidence in the American criminal justice system to make the right decisions about guilt and innocence, up from just over 50 percent six years ago.

And the FBI has regained the positive assessment that it seemed to have lost one month ago, when the first announcement of the existence of the misplaced documents was made. In this poll, twice as many adults have a favorable image of the FBI as have an unfavorable one. Last month, opinion was evenly divided.

Opinion Of The FBI
Favorable — Now: 37%; May: 24%
Unfavorable — Now: 19%; May: 25%


The public also thinks, by a 77 percent to 18 percent margin, that the Justice Department's 30-day delay last month of the execution, made in the wake of the discovery of the FBI documents, was the right thing to do. Respondents in this poll were initially interviewed before the original May 16 execution date. Half of those who opposed the delay then now say it was the right thing to do.

Sixty-eight percent think that only sometimes or rarely are legal documents not turned over to defense lawyers, as happened in the McVeigh case; 27 percent believe that happens a lot of the time.


The Media And The Execution

Seven in ten Americans say they have been closely following news about McVeigh's execution, with 18 percent following it very closely. But there is mixed opinion about how much attention the media has been devoting to the story. Just under half, 48 percent, say the media has been spending the right amount of time on the execution. About the same percentage — 46 percent — say too much time has been devoted to it.

There is increased support for televising the execution for those victims and family members who wish to see it. By 60 percent to 30 percent, Americans think that is a good idea, up from 52 percent last month. But just 15 percent would extend the ability to watch the execution to any person who wants to view it.

Should Mcveigh's Execution Be Televised?
Yes, for everyone: 15%
Yes, for victims and families only: 45%
No: 30%

The poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 565 adults, interviewed by telephone June 9, 2001. They were part of a sample that had first been interviewed May 10-12, 2001. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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