Help Us Keep the Death Penalty Out of Nebraska

We are excited that the Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing will be spending 10 days in Nebraska supporting the effort to RETAIN the end of the death penalty! From July 15 – July 23, murder victims family members, death row exonorees, and the family members of death row inmates will crisscross the state sharing their stories and why they support alternatives to the death penalty. Click HERE to check out the schedule to see who will be visiting your city!

During the 1990s, when the state of Nebraska last executed people, the executions were treated by some as a party. Senator Colby Coash, now a leading anti-death penalty advocate in Nebraska, recalls going to the Nebraska Penitentiary prior to an execution to find people “banging pots and pans and chanting ‘fry him, fry him.’” Recognizing the irony in celebrating the state-ordered murder of a convicted murderer, Coash first began to realize the death penalty may not be an upstanding institution. Motivated by a realization that the death penalty in Nebraska was an irreparably flawed institution, Coash and 29 other state senators—Republicans, Democrats and one Independent—came together in May, 2015 to replace the death penalty in Nebraska with life in prison without parole.

Unfortunately, some in Nebraska are trying to bring the death penalty back, making it important for Nebraskans for Peace to team up with the anti-death penalty movement to retain the state legislature’s decision to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Whether senators were motivated by financial reasons (the death penalty appeals process makes the process more expensive than life in prison without parole—money that could be going to support the families of victims), moral objections to state-ordered executions, fears that innocent people could be put to death (as has happened on several occasions in other states) or a mix of these causes, the state legislature was clear in its decision. By a 30-19 vote, conservative Republicans, moderates in both parties, liberal Democrats and longtime advocate and independent Ernie Chambers joined together to pass LB 268, getting rid of the death penalty in Nebraska and making the state’s criminal justice system more just.

Unfortunately, after his attempt to veto LB 268 failed, Governor Pete Ricketts and other death penalty supporters launched a campaign to bring the death penalty back. After obtaining the necessary signatures, a referendum was placed on the ballot for the November, 2016 election giving Nebraskans a choice to vote to retain LB 268 and the decision to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole, or repeal LB 268 and bring the unjust punishment back to our state.

To combat the money and influence of those supporting a repeal of LB 268, Retain a Just Nebraska was started to campaign in favor of retaining the legislature’s well-thought out and financially and morally appropriate decision to replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has been fighting the death penalty since 1981. When NADP members realized it would be necessary to launch a campaign to ensure LB 268 was retained, Retain a Just Nebraska was formed as the campaign wing of the anti-death penalty movement.

While lacking the money and power of those on the other side of the issue, Retain a Just Nebraska brought together a campaign staff with a significant degree of experience in campaigning and social justice issues. What is needed now, as Election Day draws nearer and nearer, are more and more volunteers and supporters to make sure as many voters as possible are educated on the referendum they’ll be faced with on their ballot this fall.

To reach voters, Retain a Just Nebraska needs volunteers to make phone calls, go door-to-door canvassing, share information at local community events, and help out in other ways around the campaign’s offices (located in Omaha at 440 Regency Parkway Suite 234 and in Lincoln at 5561 South 48th Street, Suite 215). Supporters can subscribe to Retain a Just Nebraska’s e-mail list, write letters to the editor of their local newspaper showing their support for the cause, host events or consider contributing financially to keep the death penalty out of our state. For more information, you can visit Retain a Just Nebraska’s website www.retainajustnebraska.com, call the Omaha office at 402-991-2345 or e-mail info@retainajustnebraska.com.

There will be several important decisions facing voters this November, but the referendum on LB 268 can’t be ignored. With a little help from all of our supporters, Retain a Just Nebraska, NADP, Nebraskans for Peace and the legions of Nebraskans who recognize the death penalty is broken will succeed in keeping this outdated, costly and immoral institution out of our state for good.

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