Nebraska Becomes First Conservative State in 40 Years to Overturn the Death Penalty

Photo by Doug Berry
The state's lawmakers voted yesterday to replace capital punishment with life in prison

The Nebraska state legislature voted yesterday to overturn the death penalty, making it the first conservative state to do so since North Dakota in 1973.

Both democratic and republican senators supported the bill, spearheaded by the state's first Black senator, Sen. Ernie Chambers, and overturned Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto in a 30-19 vote.

"What has happened in Nebraska is a microcosm of the steady national trend away from the death penalty in the United States," said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, in a statement. "Public opinion polls show that support for the death penalty is at a 40-year low nationwide."

Shari Silberstein, the executive director of Equal Justice USA, an organization that strongly opposes the death penalty, released a statement yesterday afternoon predicting how the repeal will affect the future of capital punishment.

"Nebraska has shown the nation what happens when you put aside partisan politics and embrace simple common sense," she said in the statement. "The death penalty was already on its last legs, but it's hard to imagine that it has any staying power left after this."

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