Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nebraska Abolishes Death Penalty in Veto Override

The death penalty is not fundamentally opposed by most people. But it is losing practical support. Confidence in the accuracy of the justice system has suffered with the drumbeat of exonerations, and the death penalty is now imposed with such rarity that it feels arbitrary. 
Today the nominally non-partisan but conservative single-chamber state Legislature in Nebraska overrode the veto of Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and abolished capital punishment in the state which carried out its last execution in 1997.
 Seven years ago I predicted that New Jersey's legislative repeal of capital punishment would be a herald of change. At a one day symposium I organized (proceedings here, key resources here) we heard from prosecutors, defenders, legislators, the Governor, and the citizen group which mobilized to bring about the change. Today Nebraska followed in that track. -gwcNebraska Abolishes Death Penalty -

by Julie Bosman

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska on Wednesday became the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty, with lawmakers defying their Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, a staunch supporter of capital punishment who had lobbied vigorously against banning it.

By a 30 to 19 vote that cut across party lines, the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto on Tuesday of a bill repealing the state’s death penalty law. The measure garnered just enough votes to overcome the veto.

The vote at the State Capitol here capped a months long battle that pitted most lawmakers in the unicameral Legislature against the governor, many law enforcement officials and some family members of murder victims whose killers are on death row. The Legislature approved the repeal bill three times this year, each time by a veto-proof majority, before sending it to Mr. Ricketts’s desk.

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