Nebraska legislature votes to repeal the death penalty

The Nebraska Legislature has voted 32-15 to repeal the death penalty. The majority is large enough to override Republican governor Pete Ricketts' promised veto.

The bill banning the death penalty, L.B 268, will apply retroactively, giving those currently on death row a sentence of life without parole. There are currently 11 such prisoners in the state.

Speaking a week before the vote, Omaha, Nebraska’s Archbishop George J. Lucas represented the Nebraska Catholic Conference when he joined other religious leaders, priests and women religious in calling for an end to the death penalty in Nebraska.

Dr Lucas explained that while Catholic teaching allows for the death penalty if it is the only available way to protect society from a threat to human life, such situations are almost non-existent.

“Public safety can be assured through other means,” he said, adding, “And justice requires punishment, but it does not require that those who have committed capital crimes be put to death.”