Nebraska voters put the death penalty back on the books. State officials now are moving to remove the obstacles to carrying out executions.
A public hearing at the State Office Building will take testimony on the new execution protocol proposed by the Ricketts Administration.
Gov. Pete Ricketts says his administration is committed to carrying out the death sentence in wake of 61% approval of capital punishment. The Department of Correctional Services released a proposed new protocol for lethal injection shortly after voters spoke in the November election.
“When they say something as strongly as they did about the death penalty it really is incumbent upon the administration to make sure we’re carrying out the will of the people,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network. “And, so we are proceeding down a path to be able to carry out those penalties.”
Ricketts defends a tactic used to avoid having to disclose where the state obtains the deadly drugs. The proposal would make the pharmacist part of the execution team, whose members have always been shielded from public view. It also gives the state Corrections Director much more flexibility on the method used.
The governor insists the protocol mirrors the 2009 law which authorized the use of lethal injection to carry out capital punishment.
State lawmakers repealed the death penalty late in the 2015 legislative session. Gov. Ricketts vetoed the measure, but legislators overrode his veto. A petition drive to put the issue to a vote arose shortly after the Unicameral’s action. Voters overwhelmingly overturned the legislature in November and, by a 61-to-39% split reinstated capital punishment.
Speaker Galen Hadley doesn’t see the vote as a repudiation of the legislature.
“I didn’t see it as a repudiation of the Unicameral,” Hadley tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It just was a different viewpoint.”
Nebraska last executed an inmate in 1997. There are 10 inmates currently on death row.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]