State lawmakers today begin debating whether to repeal the death penalty.
Attorney General Doug Peterson understands news accounts of problems in other states, such as a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma, might well come into play as the Unicameral debates the bill.
“So, it’s always been a national issue, although governed by state law, it’s affected by national factors, international factors as far as drug supply,” Peterson tells reporters.
Death penalty opponents have successfully put pressure on European pharmaceutical companies to restrict the use of sodium thiopental, not allowing it to be used in executions. Sodium thiopental is no longer manufactured in the United States. It is the first of the lethal three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections.
Nebraska no longer has any sodium thiopental on hand.
Technical issues aside, Peterson says he understands the gravity of the debate.
“It is a significant issue, which the senators have to consider all the ramifications and they set the law,” Peterson says.
The state switched to lethal injection after a 2009 Nebraska Supreme Court ruling declared the electric chair to be cruel and unusual punishment. Nebraska last carried out an execution in 1997. Eleven prisoners now reside on death row.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]