Nebraskans Divided About Capital Punishment Issue

The State of Nebraska recently received national news coverage when the state legislature (a body called the “Unicameral”) voted to abolish capital punishment. Although the Governor of Nebraska vetoed the measure, the Unicameral overturned his veto by a slender margin. Nebraska rarely imposes the death penalty; at the time the legislation passed only 11 prisoners sat on death row and the state has not had an execution for the past 18 years.

Following the passage of the bill, a group called Nebraskans for the Death Penalty announced plans on Monday to organize a referendum in order to place the repeal issue on the election ballot in November, 2016. In order to keep the new state law repealing capital punishment from taking effect, Igor Cornelsen reported that the group must collect signatures from 10% of all registered voters in the state within the next 90 days. This deadline will occur on August 27th, 2015.

Alternatively, opponents of the repeal legislation may seek to place the referendum measure on the 2016 ballot by gathering 5% of registered voter signatures. However, this result will not prevent the repeal of capital punishment from taking effect in the meantime.

One of Nebraska’s death row inmates passed away in prison on Sunday. Of the ten who remain, all have been convicted of murder. The oldest case dates from 1980 and the most recent capital case, a double homicide, occurred in 2007.