Death penalty debate far from over

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sen. Ernie Chambers was honest and generous in his statements following the historic 30-19 vote to override Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of the Legislature's bill to end the death penalty in Nebraska.

"Whenever anything historic occurs, it's never the doing of one person," Chambers, an Independent who introduced a repeal measure 38 times, told The Associated Press. "I've been pushing for this for 40 years, but all of this time it's never been done. If it could be done by one man, it would have been done a long time ago."

So were the Catholic bishops of Nebraska, who were magnanimous in victory: "We recognize many men and women of good will on both sides of this debate. May all Nebraskans continue working together for peace, justice, safety, and the common good. We encourage all people to pray for our civic leaders, for police officers and first responders, for the victims of violent crimes and their families, and for the incarcerated. May the peace of Jesus Christ reign in our hearts, our communities, and in our state."

The governor and attorney general were understandably disappointed:

"My words cannot express how appalled I am that we have lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families," said Gov. Ricketts. "While the Legislature has lost touch with the citizens of Nebraska, I will continue to stand with Nebraskans and law enforcement on this important issue."

"I disagree with the Legislature's override of Governor Ricketts' veto," said Attorney General Doug Peterson. "This action limits the ability of law enforcement to effectively prosecute and punish Nebraska's most dangerous criminals. I believe the people of Nebraska still maintain that capital punishment is an appropriate means of effectuating justice for heinous crimes."

The issue is far from settled, however. Officials say there is nothing in the law to overturn previous death sentences already waiting to be carried out.

And, with Sen. Beau McCoy saying he would consider putting the death penalty on a statewide ballot next year, it is likely to be a topic of debate for years to come.

But Nebraska hasn't executed anyone since 1997, our last batch of lethal drugs outdated and opponents question the legality of the $50,000 worth of new drugs we've purchased, but have not yet arrived.

Meanwhile, one of those most deserving of the death penalty, Michael Ryan, died of natural causes three decades after he tortured and killed two people, including a 5-year-old, before the sentenced could be carried out.

For now, at least, Nebraska practicality won out over arguments that the death penalty should be kept in place.

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  • How did Senator Hughes vote?

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, May 28, 2015, at 3:53 PM
  • *

    Hughes was one of the 19 voting to not override the Governor and hence he was voting to keep the death penalty.

    See page 1897 of the Legislative Journal


    -- Posted by ksfarmer on Thu, May 28, 2015, at 8:13 PM
  • Thanks. I think he has done an ok job but I believe he was wrong on this vote and on raising the gas tax.

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, May 28, 2015, at 9:33 PM
  • Dennis. He was not wrong and that is the reason we elected him and NOT YOU!

    -- Posted by quick13 on Fri, May 29, 2015, at 8:09 AM
  • Dennis you are so left wing it is surprising that you would even consider you had any chance of winning our legislative district. I have never met anyone besides yourself that was not in favor of the death penalty. I have lived in this area all my life and I can tell you with a great degree of accuracy that is the most liberal attitude that I have ever encountered in southwest Nebraska.

    -- Posted by quick13 on Fri, May 29, 2015, at 8:17 AM
  • Sorry you feel the need to attack me. I try to understand your view points. Admittedly I am a regular Church goer and although I fail to be sin free I do try to follow the teachings of my faith. The National Council of Churches that represents 35 Protestant and Orthodox Churches Plus the Catholic Church and Jewishfaith all advocate for the abolition of the death penality unless it is the only way to protect society. I would chose to think my position not one of being liberal but of being moral according my my faith. If your faith has a different moral view then by all means follow it.

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, May 29, 2015, at 10:57 AM
  • Dennis I don't feel the need to attack you personally. I've no problem at all with you as a person after all this is the United States of America where we rejoice in our diversity. Unfortunately you are a dedicated commenter on all articles in the gazette. And because I want the people who read this to have both sides of the argument, you force me into calling you out! Dennis you appear to have the attitude that all problems can be solved by more government. I on the other hand believe the only reason government exists is to provide for the common defense and to regulate matters of Interstate disputes. Please Don't hide behind the public tenets and social platitudes of religious organizations. Have you actually read the bible or is that an outdated document (like the constitution (sic)) If you have you might remember the phrase "an eye for an eye"? This is how approx 98% of the voters feel in our district. I have been a trustee and church member for 40 years. And I can tell you everyone in my church feels exactly the same way I do! You kill, you will be killed. Dennis you are seriously out of touch with the electorate...

    -- Posted by quick13 on Fri, May 29, 2015, at 1:49 PM
  • Q, again I understand your position. I also believe you that "maybe" the majority of Nebraskans favor the death penality. Just because the majority favors it does not mean I need to support it. I believe the Bible passage..."vengeance is mine sayth the Lord". I understand that only 19 of the 50 states in the U.S. Have abolished it. I know that as of 2013 the U.S. was fifth in the number of persons killed by the government. China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia ranked above us and Yemen and Sudan right below us. This is a grouping I personally wish we were not in. For years slavery was favored by the majority. It did not make it right. Also, I believe that government is necessary but often it causes more problems than it solves. I believe in personality responsibility.

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, May 29, 2015, at 4:07 PM
  • Dennis, that's the problem with Politicians like you, you vote for your own beliefs instead of what the majority of your constituents favor!

    -- Posted by Shock on Sat, May 30, 2015, at 11:26 AM
  • Shock, you and others have mischaracterized me in the past as well as this time. I may not be who you think I am. Amen on this blog site

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Jun 1, 2015, at 10:30 AM
  • Well that's a relief!

    -- Posted by Shock on Mon, Jun 1, 2015, at 10:57 PM
  • There are too many crooked cops and prosecutors who would falsify evidence for a conviction to continue the death penalty. There are several instances of people being convicted of murder only to proven not guilty after spending years in prison.

    -- Posted by bbens on Thu, Jun 4, 2015, at 2:27 PM
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