It's just really tragic that after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years, we can't leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.
The “conservative” Republican unicameral legislature in Nebraska got it right! On May 20, by a 32-15 margin, a death penalty repeal bill passed. This was the third vote in this session and the “yes” votes were consistently favorable in each round of voting. Following the final vote, Governor Pete Ricketts stated he would veto the legislation and began a strenuous effort to get senators to change their vote. To override a veto 30 votes were required.
The May 27th vote to override was 30 for repeal and 19 for retaining their death penalty, therefore Nebraska becomes the seventh state since 2006 to replace the death penalty with life without parole. There are now 19 states without a death penalty. Considering that ten more states that still have a death penalty, have not had an execution in more than five year means that the majority of American states are not currently in the business of executing convicted inmates.
OADP gives a big shout out to Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Stacy Anderson, their Executive Director, who has worked for many years to achieve this great victory. It is a victory for NADP, the citizens of Nebraska, their legislature and the national abolition movement.
In a statement by Robert Dunham, executive director of Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., he wrote, “The conservative Republicans’ position as expressed in Nebraska are basically a microcosm of what is going on with conservatives about the death penalty nationwide. Fiscal, procedural and religious concerns are driving the shift of attitudes”.
Having Nebraska join New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland the states that have repealed their death penalty laws within the past decade gives the national movement another boost.
OADP board member and former Superintendent at the Oregon State Penitentiary, Frank Thompson, recently spoke to the Nebraska legislature. Hearing the news, Mr. Thompson stated, “It really pleases me to see the turn of events in Nebraska. They have looked at capital punishment as a failed public policy.” He continued, “There was wide support from conservatives in their legislature for insistence on positive evidenced -based outcomes as a reason for their vote. I was honored to have been asked to speak and most pleased with the outcome.”
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is proud of Frank and his continued contribution to the death penalty debate here in Oregon and across the country.
OADP Board Chair