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Can Nebraska Afford to Keep the Death Penalty?

New study shows high cost of the death penalty in a time of economic crisis in Nebraska

The Death Penalty Information Center has released its latest report, “Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis.” The report combines an analysis of the costs of the death penalty with a newly-released national poll of police chiefs who put capital punishment at the bottom of their law enforcement priorities. Read the study here. The study concludes that states are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on the death penalty, draining state budgets during the economic crisis and diverting funds from more effective anti-violence programs.

Also included in the report are the results of a nationwide poll of police chiefs which found that they ranked the death penalty last among their priorities for crime-fighting, do not believe the death penalty deters murder, and rate it as the least efficient use of limited taxpayer dollars.

From the report’s executive summary:

The death penalty in the U.S. is an enormously expensive and wasteful program with no clear benefits. All of the studies on the cost of capital punishment conclude it is much more expensive than a system with life sentences as the maximum penalty. In a time of painful budget cutbacks, states are pouring money into a system that results in a declining number of death sentences and executions that are almost exclusively carried out in just one area of the country. As many states face further deficits, it is an appropriate time to consider whether maintaining the costly death penalty system is being smart on crime.

This report was released at the same time that Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman announced that the state of Nebraska is facing a $335.5 million budget shortfall. Governor Heineman has stated that, “we should reduce government expenditures,”and that the state’s decision makers, “will develop a targeted and responsible budget proposal.” State legislators are being called back to Lincoln for a special session to deal with the budget crisis on November 4th. We must continue to call for an end to a program that is both inefficient and ineffective–the death penalty.

A new website ( has been developed to allow Nebraskans to voice their opinions on the budget crisis to the Appropriations Committee. We encourage you to visit and tell our leaders to get smart on crime, and with our money, and end the death penalty in Nebraska!


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