By Jill L Francke, NADP Statewide Coordinator
I wanted to take a moment now that the dust has settled to fill you all in on the ongoing work here at Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty!
First, I want to say how awesome it is to be part of a movement that is in such an exciting place both here in our state and on the national level. I am so encouraged by the huge gains being made in CO, KS, MD, CT, MT, MO and of course NM! It has bolstered our movement here in Nebraska and I am sure that we have only seen the beginning of these success stories!
The staff and Board of Directors here at NADP were very disappointed by the passage of the bill to implement lethal injection as our new and only means of execution on the second to last day of the 2009 legislative session. However, at the beginning of the session this legislation was viewed as a “slam-dunk” so the fact that we held them off as long as we did was very encouraging. Additionally, we picked up some new supporters of abolition and saw the emergence of two floor leaders during this years debate. While we did not have the votes needed for repeal this year we can certainly feel the shift that has taken place in this debate and even one of our staunch opponents in the Legislature declared that he can see the end of the death penalty in Nebraska coming in the near future. So our work must continue!
I want to thank all the individuals and organizations here in Nebraska and around the country that took part in the various calls to action during this session. There is no doubt that the presence of a true movement in support of repeal was felt in the halls of the capitol this year!
We have already seen the first in what will be a litany of challenges to lethal injection in Nebraska. The law does not even take effect until September and already it has been challenged in our state Supreme Court. It was very clear from the testimony heard before the Judiciary Committee and from the debate on the floor that this poorly crafted legislation will soon be seen as the “Nebraska Lawyers Stimulus Package of 2009” and we will be working to ensure that the state takes responsibility for passing this wasteful and inefficient legislation.
I also want to take some time to let you all know about the ongoing work that is underway at NADP. We have recently begun to collaborate with Murder Victims for Reconciliation (MVFR), a national organization that works with murder victim family member, (“mvfms”) in an effort to expand our outreach to mvfms here in Nebraska and we are happy that MVFR will be holding their upcoming board meeting in Omaha. While here, MVFR will be conducting a training for our local mvfms and other activists working in that community. We are extremely lucky to have some amazing mvfm who are already a critical part of our campaign and look forward to learning more about the needs of murder victim family members in Nebraska and how death penalty affects those needs.
Additionally, we are working to expand our efforts in the area of innocence and the death penalty. Greg Wilhoit will be delivering our Annual Dinner address this year and we are planning to do a mini tour in the state with some of our local exonerees and mvfms to get our the message that Nebraska faces the same problems that plague the death penalty in other states. We have learned so much from the work of the Journey of Hope and Witness to Innocence and it is our hope that these personal messages from our state will be very effective in continuing to re-frame the debate about capitol punishment.
I always like to hear from our supporters and I appreciate any feedback from you on the work we are doing. If you know of a location that we could host an event in your area or are willing to help us organize such an event please give me a call or send me an email.
I look forward to working with and learning from all of you as we look down the road to abolition of the death penalty in our state and around the country!