The wrongly convicted in the US – the death penalty debate.

Founded by George Gallup in 1935, Gallup is an American research-based, global performance-management and consulting company. Gallup has become known for its public opinion polls conducted worldwide and provides research and strategic consulting to large organisations in many countries.

Almost since its formation this company monitors support for the death penalty in the United States of America.

Are you in favour of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?

This is the question that is asked. In 1966 opposition to the death penalty peaked with close to 50% of Americans opposing it; by comparison, a little over 40% supported the death penalty and around 10% had no opinion.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the death penalty increased in popularity. It was at a time when politicians were vigorously campaigning on fighting crime and drugs.

By 1994 the opposition rate was less than 20%, less than in any other year. Interestingly since then, the crime rate has fallen, and the Gallup poll of October 2016 poll revealed that 60% of respondents were in favour and 37% were opposed.

The death penalty in the United States is a serious issue. It is extremely difficult to remain emotionally detached from this issue and opinions either way is strong.

The Penalty is an important documentary from British documentary filmmakers Will Francome, Mark Pizzey & Laura Shacham. These three were responsible for the brilliantly insightful and somewhat terrifying documentary One for Ten, a series of interactive documentary shorts which feature the stories of people who were sent to death row, only to be later released after being found to be innocent.

The Penalty examines the human cost of the death penalty in America. It is a timely and gripping examination of the death penalty in the United States. The British team embed themselves in the stories of three fascinating people tragically effected by the American capital punishment system. The Penalty follows the stories of a man wrongly convicted who spent 15 years on death row; a lawyer fighting against increasingly inhumane and disgustingly botched executions; and a mother battling against a state’s pursuit of the death penalty for the murderer of her daughter.

The death penalty in the United States is in the news again with the recent execution in Alabama of Walter Moody Jr, the oldest inmate killed in the modern history of the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a group that tracks capital punishment.

This documentary is as timely as it is visceral with a little over 2700 people presently on death row in the United States. With support for the death penalty at an all-time low, The Penalty is a riveting, forensic examination of one of society’s most important legal issues.


By: R. J. Hawksworth