Nebraska Defies Governor, Abolishes Death Penalty

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Nebraska’s state legislature finally abolished the death penalty Wednesday, overriding Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto.

“It really is history in the making because we haven’t had a red state pass a repeal bill since North Dakota in the 70s,” Heather Beaudoin, National Coordinator for Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I think it shows a real shift that conservatives are wanting to talk about criminal justice reform and death penalty is on that list.”

The legislature needed 30 votes to override the veto. On final reading the bill passed 32-15, but two senators changed their votes on the override vote, making the final count 30-19.

The governor had vetoed the legislation Tuesday, giving the legislature five days to override his decision.

“Repealing the death penalty sends the wrong message to Nebraskans who overwhelming support capital punishment and look to government to strengthen public safety, not weaken it. Under this bill, there is no guarantee that convicted murderers will stay behind bars for life or not harm other innocent victims,” Ricketts said.

Nebraska has 10 inmates currently on death row. Nebraska State Sen. Colby Coash told TheDCNF that while the bill has language applying to inmates already on death row, whether the law would retroactively apply would have to be decided by the judge in each particular case.

Maryland was the last state to abolish the death penalty, which happened in 2013. Capital punishment is now legal in 31 states.

The governor took to Twitter with some dramatic posts to urge Nebraskans to see his point of view.

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Casey Harper