The Nebraska legislature completed two days of debate on the death penalty today. Although the debate ended with a filibuster instead of a vote, test votes taken during the debate indicated that there’s majority support for ending the death penalty in the unicameral legislature.
Several repeal supporters gave heartfelt, eloquent testimony on the Senate floor about why the death penalty was broken, many of them sharing why they changed their minds from being against repeal to now supporting it.
Last time Nebraska voted on the death penalty, only 13 lawmakers voted for repeal. Yesterday’s test vote received 26 votes, or double the support. Newspapers and experts within Nebraska are saying that these test votes mean if we’d had a vote on the bill, it would probably have passed.
Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said in a press release,
“The death penalty in Nebraska has been a colossal failure, and the lawmakers and citizens of our state now recognize the inevitable demise of this broken system,” said Stacy Anderson, Executive Director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
The release continues,
“During the debate many conservative and democratic legislators alike hammered the point that the death penalty is arbitrary and unfair, costs too much, risks executing an innocent person, and fails the families of victims, who are forced to endure years of trials and unwanted media attention.”
Senator Colby Coash of Lincoln, a member of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, was pleased to see so many of his conservative colleagues speak in support the repeal bill. “Last week when we debated the budget, we promised we’d cut government programs that do not work,” he said. “The death penalty is just that – a failed, bloated government program that does not serve the people of Nebraska, and it deserves to be voted on by the full legislature.”