updated 7/23/2004 11:37:42 AM ET 2004-07-23T15:37:42

Two-thirds of Americans believe the United States should never use physical torture of people it detains, according to a poll on attitudes about prisoner abuse.

A majority, 55 percent, said this country should never use mental torture — such as making someone think that they or their family will be killed, according to the poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Four of five supported the rights of someone detained to have a hearing where they can answer the charges against them. About that many said detainees should have the right to contact a family member and nine in 10 said the Red Cross should be able to visit people in detention to make sure they are treated properly, according to the poll conducted by Knowledge Networks.

Six in 10 said that people captured who are not conventional soldiers should still be accorded the rights provided by treaties. Such treaties spell out the rights of prisoners of war.

Two-thirds believe the United States president should not have the right to override constitutional requirements that all people in detention should be given a hearing.

Three-fourths agreed with the statement that the United States is a moral leader in the world and should not set a bad example by torturing or degrading people in detention.

An overwhelming majority opposed the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners, making prisoners stay naked, holding prisoners heads under water for extended periods of time and sexually humiliating prisoners.

The poll of 892 adults was taken July 9-15 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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