One of the reddest of red states has killed the death penalty, overriding Republican Gov. Pete Rickett’s veto. And he’s furious.
The 30-19 vote Wednesday was exactly what was needed for the override, which made
Nebraska the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment, reports Reuters.
Ricketts, a death penalty supporter, had vetoed lawmakers’ bill on Tuesday, calling capital punishment a deterrent.
"My words cannot express how appalled I am that we have lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families," said 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."
Botched lethal injections around America have sparked debate about the punishment. So much so that Utah has moved to bring back executions by firing squad if lethal injections are unavailable, which would make it the only state in the country to permit the practice.
Utah used firing squads for decades before adopting lethal injections in 2004.
Several U.S. states have had to search for new drugs for their lethal injection cocktails after many pharmaceutical companies, mostly in Europe, imposed sales bans about four years ago because they objected to having medications made for other purposes being used in executions.
Nebraska had just ordered a new batch of drugs.
Reuters reports: Senators in the officially nonpartisan, but majority Republican unicameral legislature, had cited religious reservations, the difficulty the state has in obtaining drugs used for lethal injections, the risk of wrongful convictions, and unfair implementation in turning against executions.
"Everything we've seen and heard from studies in the past shows that at best the death penalty is applied arbitrarily," Senator Matt Hansen said.
No Republican-controlled state has outlawed the death penalty in over 40 years, CNN says.
"We are a nation that is turning away from the death penalty. This victory stands as a testament to what can happen in our sister states," Danielle Conrad, the executive director of the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.