Narrow Supreme Court ruling gives glimpse at future of death penalty

Supreme Court Building

On the last day of its spring session, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a long-anticipated death penalty case, Glossip v Gross.

Though the case’s scope was narrow – only relevant to one drug used in a handful of state execution protocols – the oral arguments held in April unfolded with rare courtroom drama and revealed deep disagreement between the Justices about the death penalty in the United States.

The Court’s final ruling in favor of Oklahoma’s right to use the drug in question – midazolam – seemed to ignore the fact that the death penalty is falling into disuse around the country and that there is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that it is broken beyond repair. But those facts were not lost on the Court’s minority.

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What’s next for the death penalty debate in Nebraska?

Nebraskans for Public Safety

It’s hard to imagine that after all that work done to pass repeal in Nebraska, the debate over the death penalty is still not over. But it’s not.

Why? Because some lawmakers are clinging so desperately to the death penalty that they are scrambling to get illegal execution drugs and trying to force the issue onto the ballot. If death penalty supporters get enough signatures, a decision about death penalty repeal will go on the November 2016 ballot in Nebraska.

(We put together a geeky rundown of the “Veto referendum” process, since our equally-geeky rundown of the Nebraska legislative process was so popular.)

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Recommended link: Texas has not sentenced anyone to death in 2015

Texas

While Texas may seem like an outlier in the national trend away from the death penalty, even the Lone Star State is turning away from the antiquated, broken system.

For the first time in more than 20 years, no jury in the previous 6-month period has imposed the death penalty.

Read the full story in the Dallas Morning News’s Blog

EJUSA joins the Sojourners #SummitForChange. Watch LIVE

Summit For Change

EJUSA is thrilled and honored to be a part of this year’s Sojourner’s Summit for Change, starting this evening and going through noon on Saturday.

National Organizer Heather Beaudoin was nominated to participate and selected from a pool of applicants to be a part of the conference in Washington, DC that brings together 300 global leaders making change in and with faith communities. She will participate inspirational talks, small-group gatherings, and shared meals with change-makers from around the world.

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Your guide to the Nebraska death penalty referendum process

Signing a petition

Wondering how it’s possible that Nebraska is still debating the death penalty, even though legislators passed repeal (over the Governor’s veto) in the Spring? We’ve got you covered. After the popularity of our geeky guide to the Nebraska legislative process, we’ve put together an equally geeky guide to the referendum process that’s unfolding now.

Nebraska’s “Veto Referendum”

In Nebraska, the state Constitution allows citizens to overturn a decision by the legislature via a petition and referendum process. Citizens can mount a campaign and start collecting petition signatures following the last day of the legislature (also known as sine die in geek speak).

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Be sure Nebraska lawmakers get your ‘Thank You’ note!

Thank you, Nebraska Senators!

Don’t miss your chance to send a “Thank You” note to the Nebraska lawmakers who voted to end the death penalty.

We’re teaming up with our longtime partners atNebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty to deliver your appreciation to all 30 Nebraska Senators who voted to override the Governor’s veto and end the death penalty in Nebraska once and for all.

Those lawmakers declared the death penalty is ineffective, costly, unfair, harmful for victims’ families, and risks dangerous mistakes. They made Nebraska the 19th state – and the first “red” state in over 40 years – to end the death penalty.

When lawmakers demonstrate such leadership, it is critical that we acknowledge it. Write a note to Nebraska Senators today!

With the encouragement of people like you, we’re confident that we will see more and more lawmakers stand up for justice!

It was the most profound thing I will ever do

Sandy & Shari

Delegate Sandy Rosenberg and EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein, shortly after the Maryland legislature passed death penalty repeal

Repealing the death penalty in Maryland was an arduous task that took many years – with many ups and downs. It culminated in 2013, when the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 276, Death Penalty Repeal – Substitution of Life Without the Possibility of Parole, with the crucial support of Gov. Martin O’Malley. But that historic action came after years of work by many individuals, organizations, consultants, and elected officials.

Doing away with capital punishment in Maryland was a milestone in the national abolition movement. Five other states had ended the death penalty in the years leading up to 2013. The decision in Maryland – which sits south of the Mason-Dixon Line and had carried out several executions in the near past –sent a signal across the country that repeal would gain momentum.

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Thank the Nebraska Senators who ended the death penalty

Thank you, Nebraska Senators!

It is vital that lawmakers hear from the people afterthey deliver, not just before a vote when we ask for their support. Last week, 30 Senators in Nebraska declared the death penalty is ineffective, costly, unfair, harmful for victims’ families, and risks dangerous mistakes. They made Nebraska the 19th state – and the first “red” state in over 40 years – to end the death penalty.

Help us collect thank you notes from around the world! We’re teaming up with our longtime partners at Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty to deliver your appreciation to all 30 Nebraska Senators who voted to override the Governor’s veto and end the death penalty in Nebraska once and for all.

Send a personal message to the Nebraska repeal supporters.

Recommended Link: Remembering a devoted supporter in Nebraska

Stacy & Norma

Norma Fleisher’s is also a conversion story. She supported the death penalty until 1999, when she ministered to prisoners on Tennessee’s death row. On her return to Nebraska, she became one of the hardest working supporters of repeal, driving more than 4,000 miles through every Nebraska county to talk about the death penalty to anyone who would listen and standing vigil at the Governor’s mansion every week. She became an inspiration for Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty’s Stacy Anderson (with whom she is pictured on the left), as well as for Senator Morfeld, who dedicated his repeal vote to her.

Norma passed away last October, more than six months before she could witness Nebraska as a death penalty-free state. Those who knew her are sure she was cheering from “a gallery far above.”

Read about Norma in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Nebraska Senators and their death penalty conversions

Lindstrom, Coash, & Hilkemann

We’ve learned a lot about the death penalty in the last 35 years. Many people, however, still don’t know just how broken the policy is.

This January, 17 freshmen lawmakers embarked on their first legislative session in Nebraska. Some of them had only thought about the death penalty from a philosophical or emotional standpoint, never studying the issue as a practical, policy matter.

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