A professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law says the state’s capital punishment system likely will not execute anyone in the future.
Eric Berger, professor and associate dean, says the state does not have the lethal injection drugs it needs, and there are few options for finding them.
He says the hard-to-find drugs expire within a year and would need to be restocked often, if they can be found.
“So voting to reinstate the death penalty is ultimately a vote to spend an enormous amount of taxpayers’ dollars on a broken system that doesn’t work and that we’re unlikely to execute people anyway,” Berger said at a news conference sponsored by the anti-death penalty group Retain a Just Nebraska.
Berger says housing an inmate for life in prison without parole is less expensive than putting one on death row.
“Given the increased momentum of pharmaceutical companies coming out and saying they don’t want their drugs used for lethal injection, it’s a problem that’s not going away,” Berger said. “If anything, it’s a problem that’s probably going to get harder and harder.”
State Sen. Colby Coash says $54,400 has been wasted by unsuccessfully trying to get lethal injection drugs from India.
He says the effort will only get more costly in the future, at taxpayers’ expense.
“What this fool’s errand of trying to get the drugs is showing me, and should show the voters, that our priorities are out of whack,” Coash told reporters. “We have bigger things to fix in Corrections, and getting drugs is certainly not one of them.”
Coash says the money spent on capital punishment should be redirected to hiring police and corrections officers.
Nebraska voters will decide this fall whether to bring back the death penalty after lawmakers abolished it last year.