Last week, death penalty supporters in Nebraska submitted petition signatures to put repeal legislation in front of voters in the 2016 election.
The signatures have now been sent to county clerks, who will attempt to verify them against registered voters in the next 40 days. The official numbers will come out in October from the Secretary of State’s Office, but it seems there are enough for the death penalty to go before Nebraska voters next fall.
The return of the death penalty is far from assured. Nebraska’s NPR station quickly reported that only a third of ballot campaigns in the state succeed. An editorial in Nebraska’s Kearney Hub asked, “So have politicians, despite the Legislature’s well-educated and reasoned repeal of capital punishment, sold petition signers a bill of goods? Probably.” And one of the state’s largest papers editorialized, “The Journal Star editorial board is confident that voters who study the issues will come to the same conclusion that the Legislature did: It’s time for the death penalty to go.”
Our partners at Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty reiterated their commitment to educating Nebraskans in every corner of the state about how the death penalty has failed as a public policy. Nebraska’s Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty chapter was also quoted in several media stories saying they’ll be at schools and parishes, teaching the facts and engaging in discussions.
Even the Roman Catholic Bishops in Nebraska released a statement, indicating they intend to see the death penalty take its place in the history books in Nebraska. “Reflection on the God-given dignity of every human person should guide all our decisions about life, including refraining from the use of the death penalty.”
EJUSA joins all of them in the confidence that the more people learn about the death penalty, the less they will support it – just like the legislators who voted overwhelmingly three times to repeal the death penalty and then again to override the governor’s veto this spring.
It seems certain that the broken nature of the death penalty will be on full display as long as the Governor continues his failed attempts at securing lethal injection drugs. Repeated reproaches from multiple government agencies haven’t stopped the Governor from trying to illegally purchase drugs and attempting to show that he can be the first governor in more than 20 years to perform an execution.
Polling in states that have gotten rid of the death penalty shows that soon after the law is repealed, support for the death penalty drops.