Recommended: Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penalty

Nebraska state Sen. Colby Coash pushed his fellow conservatives in the state legislature to repeal the death penalty there.

Nebraska state Sen. Colby Coash pushed his fellow conservatives in the state legislature to repeal the death penalty there. (Andrew Dickinson/(for The Washington Post))

In college, Senator Colby Coash celebrated at a tailgate party outside of a prison during an execution. Now he’s part of the growing conservative movement to end the death penalty in the United States – a movement that EJUSA’s Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty has helped spawn. Read The Washington Post’s in-depth article about this trend and EJUSA’s impact, featuring interviews with EJUSA staff members Heather Beaudoin and Marc Hyden, who lead Conservatives Concerned.

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penaltyThe Washington Post
In college, Senator Colby Coash celebrated at a tailgate party outside of a prison during an execution. Now he’s part of the growing conservative movement to end the death penalty in the United States. In an in-depth article about that movement, The Washington Post interviews EJUSA staff members Heather Beaudoin and Marc Hyden, both part of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
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Death penalty continues decline in 2015

Death penalty continues decline in 2015By every measure, the death penalty declined again in 2015. A new report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) found:

  • There were fewer executions in 2015 than any year in the last two decades.
  • The number of death sentences in 2015 is down 33% from just last year, and down 84% from its 1996 peak.
  • Opposition to the death penalty is at its highest rate since before the U.S. Supreme Court suspended the death penalty in the 70’s, according to recent polls.
  • For the first time in 20 years, there are fewer than 3,000 people on the U.S.’s death rows.
  • In 2015, Nebraska repealed the death penalty, and Pennsylvania’s governor announced he will not allow an execution during his tenure. That means more than half the states have either ended the death penalty, formally suspended it, or haven’t executed or sentenced anyone to death in over a decade.
  • In addition to these incredible trends, DPIC’s report found that executions took place in only 6 states – the same 6 states that have accounted for over 70% of all executions in the modern era. The death penalty is increasingly geographically isolated.

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Campaign in Nebraska shifts focus to 2016 election

Voting booth

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.

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Breaking: Nebraskans to vote on the death penalty

Voting booth

Today, a group of death penalty supporters submitted signatures for a referendum on death penalty repeal – enough to suspend repeal and put it on the November 2016 ballot if they are all verified.

The media might tell you that this kills the repeal of the death penalty that you helped achieve this spring. They might say that Nebraskans across the state disagreed with repeal and will vote to bring the death penalty back next fall.

But here’s the truth:
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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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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!

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.