This State Just Abolished The Death Penalty

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images.
In a burst of humanity and empathy, lawmakers in Nebraska have abolished the death penalty in the state, making it the 19th state to end capital punishment. It is the first conservative state to end the practice since 1973.

Nebraska hasn't executed a prisoner since 1997, when the electric chair was still used widely, according to USA Today. It has also been without one of the drugs it needs to carry out lethal injections since 2013. And, while Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he'd found a supply earlier this month, it was too late to stop death penalty opponents. Several gruesome botched executions last year reignited debate over whether there is any way to humanely execute a prisoner. 

And, as scientific tests for DNA have advanced and formerly trusted branches of forensic science like arson investigations and hair analysis have been debunked, it's become impossible to ignore the probability that innocent people have been put to death.

This is the second time the legislature has had to vote on this proposal; Ricketts vetoed the bill on Tuesday. But, his opposition wasn't enough to stop the coalition of lifelong activists and budget-hawk conservatives who had joined forces. State Senator Ernie Chambers has been working to repeal the death penalty for almost 40 years, and this time, he gained allies in conservative Republican lawmakers who worried about the cost of going through the lengthy appeals process that comes with death sentences. 

In a statement Wednesday, Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the Nebraska ACLU, said, "We are grateful for the dynamic leadership of policymakers, and we are proud to be part of an incredibly diverse coalition led by faith leaders, fiscal conservatives, and victims' families. This is a meaningful victory for all Nebraskans."
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