Wednesday, 23 January 2008

More on the Nebraska Abolition Bill

More on the Nebraska Abolition Bill

The Omaha World-Herald has, "Death penalty repeal returns."

State Sen. Ernie Chambers is hoping to take Nebraska's death penalty with him when he leaves the Legislature next January.

Chambers, who has spent more than three decades trying to pull the plug on the state's electric chair, tried again Tuesday — introducing a bill to repeal capital punishment and replace it with a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

The Omaha lawmaker has one session left to persuade colleagues to end the death penalty before he leaves office next year because of term limits.

One powerful senator, Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Ashford of Omaha, said Chambers' Legislative Bill 1063 may have a chance.

Ashford said Chambers is just one of several lawmakers who have expressed skepticism in the past couple of years over the death penalty's effectiveness.

Ashford said he expects the repeal measure to pass out of the Judiciary Committee and reach the full Legislature.

"This is an issue that, quite frankly, is not just Ernie's issue. I think there is a lot of doubt in the body about whether the death penalty works," Ashford said.

Chambers is one of the state's most passionate opponents of the death penalty. Since first being elected a state senator in 1970, he has argued that capital punishment is arbitrary, cruel and ineffective.

But he has never seen a repeal bill signed into law, despite some short-lived legislative victories.

In 1979, Chambers successfully pushed a repeal measure through the Legislature, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.

In 1999, Chambers joined forces with Sen. Kermit Brashear to successfully push for a moratorium on executions. That was vetoed by then-Gov. Mike Johanns.

This post yesterday carried an AP report on the bill.

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