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The Status of the Death Penalty in Nebraska

February 1, 2011

The death penalty has also been a hot topic here in Nebraska this month. Many of you may have heard that our Attorney General, Jon Burning, has requested that the state Supreme Court set an execution date for Carey Dean Moore. His request came just days after the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced that it had recieved a shipment of the final drug needed to carry out executions in the state. The drug, sodium thiopental, has recently become very hard to acquire as it is no longer being made by any companies within the United States—Nebraska officials had to acquire this supply from India. Nearly everyone is in agreement that Nebraska is unlikely to carry out an execution in the immediate future as the courts evaluate the new lethal injection protocols. You can read more about these issue here.

 

As some of Nebraska’s elected officials continue to put the state’s broken death penalty to use, Senators Brenda Council and Danielle Conrad have introduced LB 276, a bill to replace the sentence of death with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

We applaud all of the state senators, and the growing number of Nebraskans, who continue to call for an end to capital punishment in the state. In the past 3 years, we have doubled the size of our supporter base and have increased our outreach to the western part of the state for the first time. As a result, the state legislature has begun to acknowledge our concerns with the death penalty – even legislators who support the death penalty conceded on the floor last session that the death penalty costs the state too much money.

 

When the Nebraska Legislature returned to Lincoln this month, they were faced with one of the worst financial situations in recent memory. No program or service is being spared from the chopping block—no program except the state’s broken death penalty system. More than a dozen states have found that the death penalty is up to 10 times more expensive than sentences of life or life without parole. It is time for our elected officials to get serious about ending one of the state’s most wasteful and inefficient programs, the death penalty.

 

LB 276 has been referred to the Judiciary Committee and will be scheduled for a hearing in the next few weeks or months. We will be monitoring the progress of this bill and will be asking each of you to take action in the future. It is important that we continue to show our elected officials that Nebraskans are ready to see the end of capital punishment.

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