Washington, DC (May 26, 2015) – Last week, the Nebraska legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation to repeal the death penalty in that state in favor of life without parole. While there are 10 people on Nebraska’s death row, no one has been executed since 1997. The vote to repeal was 32 to 15 in Nebraska’s 49-seat unicameral legislature, a veto-proof majority. Nonetheless, both prior to and subsequent to the vote, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts promised to veto the legislation. Today, he made good on that promise. It will take 30 votes to override Gov. Ricketts's veto and abolish the death penalty in Nebraska, making it the 19th state (plus the District of Columbia) to do so.
"The death penalty is arbitrary, discriminatory, fallible, irrevocable, costly, and ineffective. Whether taken individually or collectively, these reasons necessitate the elimination of the death penalty. Nebraska now stands at the vanguard of an emerging bipartisan consensus that there is no place for capital punishment in America. A vote to override the governor’s veto will be a critical step forward in bringing this woefully defective practice one step closer to being properly and universally eliminated," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Theodore Simon. "In its overwhelming vote to repeal the death penalty in the State of Nebraska, that state’s senators made it clear to the nation – It is long past time when this difficult issue should be approached and evaluated on the merits and not as a partisan or philosophical matter. When put to that test, it is clear that the death penalty must be repealed to make way for evidenced-based approaches that will yield more in the way of public safety and individual and public accountability."
Throughout this process, NACDL has been engaged in efforts to bring an end to the death penalty in Nebraska, just as it has in numerous other states. For more information on the death penalty and NACDL’s efforts in this area, please visit http://www.nacdl.org/criminal-defense/death-penalty/. NACDL’s long-standing position calling for a moratorium on and abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. is recited in this board resolution.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.