Nebraska lawmakers voted 32-15 Wednesday to approve a bill [LB 268 materials] abolishing the death penalty. Earlier in April Nebraska lawmakers voted 30-13 in favor [JURIST report] of the legislation to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment in first-degree murder cases. Governor Pete Ricketts [official website], who supports capital punishment and has promised to veto the bill, said that “the vote represented a ‘dark day’ for public safety.” At least 30 votes are needed to override Rickett’s veto of the bill.
Lethal injection [JURIST archive] and execution method issues have been the hot topics of the death penalty debate for the past few years. In April the Tennessee Supreme Court postponed the execution [JURIST report] of four inmates on death row while it determines whether current protocols are constitutional, thus effectively halting all executions in the state. Also in April the Delaware Senate voted to repeal the death penalty [JURIST report], but the legislation includes an exemption for the 15 inmates currently on Delaware’s death row. In March Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill [JURIST report] to restore the firing squad as a method of execution, making Utah one of the only states with that option. Oklahoma became the epicenter [JURIST report] of the lethal injection drug debate last year after the death of Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate who died of an apparent attack minutes after doctors called off a failed attempt to execute him.