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May 20, 2015

Nebraska legislature votes by large margin to repeal state's death penalty

As reported in this new AP article, " Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill abolishing the death penalty with enough votes to override a promised veto from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts."  Here is more:

The vote was 32 to 15 in Nebraska's unicameral Legislature.  If that vote holds in a veto override, Nebraska would become the first conservative state to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.  The Nebraska vote is notable in the national debate over capital punishment because it was bolstered by conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons and say it is a waste of taxpayer money.

Nebraska hasn't executed a prisoner since 1997, and some lawmakers have argued that constant legal challenges will prevent the state from doing so again.

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, a death penalty supporter, has vowed to veto the bill. Ricketts announced last week that the state has bought new lethal injection drugs to resume executions.  Ricketts, who is serving his first year in office, argued in his weekly column Tuesday that the state's inability to carry out executions was a "management problem" that he is committed to fixing.

Maryland was the last state to end capital punishment, in 2013. Three other moderate to liberal states have done so in recent years: New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, Connecticut in 2012. The death penalty is legal in 32 states, including Nebraska.

May 20, 2015 at 01:53 PM | Permalink


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I hope it survives a veto. All those appellate lawyers and can lose their jobs, immediately.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 20, 2015 8:15:14 PM

A discussion that provides some background: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/whats-not-the-matter-with-nebraska

Posted by: Joe | May 21, 2015 10:13:35 AM

What residual effect will this ruling have on lowering sentencing across the board via plea deals? My contention is that capital punishment affects far more sentencing cases than just those that involve the actual possibilty of capital charges.

For instance, with capital punishment on the table, a prosecutor could have offered life withough parole as an alternative to risking the death penalty. Now that life without parole becomes the supreme penalty, the same crime will now result in a lower plea sentence, say, life w/ parole after 10 years.

This plea level alteration resonates down the food chain, resulting in a recalibration of all offense plea circusmstances, not just that of capital murder. It would be interesting to compare plea deals before and after capital punishment is taken off the table.

This is equivalent to raising a mininum wage law that doesn't just affect the lower waged people, but people in higher tiers have to be bumped up as well, otherwise they have no incentive to work harder than the person making minimum wage. In the capital punishment scenario, the resulting plea deals become more favorable toward the offender when capital punishment is off the table, and offenders at different "tiers" will adjust downward as well.

Posted by: Eric Knight | May 21, 2015 12:04:48 PM

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