Senators consider a bill to reveal the costs of the death penalty in Nebraska
We got a huge indication last week that our efforts to highlight the many problems with the death penalty have had a sizable impact in the halls of the Nebraska Unicameral. Of the 44 Senators present for the vote on LB1105, half of them indicated that it was time to lift the curtain shielding Nebraskans from knowing the fiscal impact of our death penalty system. While those 22 votes were not enough to pass the bill, it should serve as a strong signal that we are making progress and that our work must continue!
It was the contention of the opponents of LB1105 that knowing the cost of the death penalty would do nothing to decrease the support for the policy in the eyes of lawmakers and voters in Nebraska. As the debate came to an end, however, we witnessed a monumental contradiction to that proposition. Senator John Wightman, a well-respected Senator from Lexington and member of the Appropriations committee, who previously cast votes in support of the death penalty, stated that, in addition to supporting the cost study, he would strongly consider supporting repeal of the death penalty if the cost study showed that the policy was placing an undue financial burden on our state or county budgets.
We have opened new doors in our campaign, and we must continued to raise the important question, to the public and to legislators—is the death penalty is worth it?
We appreciate everyone who has already contacted their Senator in response to the vote on LB1105. For those who haven’t yet done so, please take a minute today to thank your Senator if they cast a vote in support of the bill. Too often we forget to say thank you when our representatives cast a favorable vote, and this is a great chance to show our appreciation.
How they voted- LB1105 (click to email) Voting yes (22): Adams, Ashford, Avery, Campbell, Carlson, Coash, Conrad, Cook, Council, Dierks, Dubas, Fulton, Giese, Haar, Lathrop, McGill, Mello, Nordquist, Rogert, Wallman, White, Wightman Voting no (22): Christensen, Fischer, Flood, Gay, Gloor, Hadley, Hansen, Harms, Heidemann, Howard, Janssen, Langemeier, Lautenbaugh, Louden, McCoy, Nelson, Pankonin, Pirsch, Schilz, Stuthman, Sullivan, Utter Excused (5): Cornett, Karpisek, Krist, Pahls, Price
As many of us know, the true costs of the death penalty are more than financial. They include the toll it takes on the families of those who have been lost to murder, its impact on corrections officials and law enforcement, the very real risk of executing an innocent person, the bias the system shows towards race, gender, geography, and socioeconomic status, and so many more. So while it is important that we understand the financial costs of the death penalty, we cannot lose sight of the many reasons why Nebraska’s broken death penalty system needs to be repealed!