Retain a Just Nebraska wants voters to know a life sentence in prison means life without parole.
Supporters of the death penalty repeal say opponents are misleading the public.
State Senator Colby Coash says an attorney general’s legal opinion last year clarifies the issue.
“And I’ll quote it – it says ‘Under current Nebraska law, a sentence of life imprisonment is effectively life imprisonment without parole.’ Nobody serving life in prison is getting out until they go out on four wheels,” Coash told reporters at a news conference.
He says the current death penalty system is broken because it takes years to carry out an execution and the drugs Nebraska uses are not available.
State Senator Adam Morfeld says changing death row inmates’ sentences to life in prison without parole is not a way to free them.
“[Opponents] have been saying that if somebody is put into life in prison without parole, they could get out,” Morfeld said. “Well, the bottom line is that they could get out period, right now, no matter what, if the attorney general, the governor, and the secretary of state decide under our current constitutional structure to allow them to get out.”
Retired District Court Judge Ronald Reagan says without capital punishment, a life sentence will have the same impact as a death sentence.
“[The state supreme court] said, very clearly – and I don’t think any lawyer could dispute this – very clearly that the Parole Board has absolutely no jurisdiction with respect to somebody who serves, has a sentence of life imprisonment,” Reagan said. “Life imprisonment means life imprisonment.”
Voters will decide whether Nebraska has capital punishment or not at the November General Election.