Death penalty debate in state legislature - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Death penalty debate in state legislature

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By: Sabrina Ahmed 

It's a touchy subject.  Should Nebraska do away with the death penalty?  It got emotional Wednesday as law makers heard testimony.

"This issue deals with life or death," Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha said.

Senator Chambers is at it again, after his four year hiatus because of term limits.  He has introduced this bill every session he's been in office.

He wants to abolish the death penalty sentence and replace it with life in prison without parole.  He said this is reflecting the state's reputation for fairness, decency, and respect for human dignity.

Testimony got emotional.  A woman who supports the bill talked about her brothers brutal murder 30 years ago.  She said, since then it's been all about his killer who is on death row, and not about her brother.

"If the execution ever comes, it'll be about Michael Ryan and never about James," Miriam Thimm Kelle said.  "Death penalty supporters say that carryout out the death penalty is family closure.  Closure is a myth.  The death penalty comes with absolutely nothing for families except more pain."

Other supporters of the say it's unnecessary and indecent to human life.  One hundred forty two people have been set free from death row because of wrongful convictions.  Supporters of the bill say, for some, it could have been too late.

There were two people who opposed the bill in the hearing room.  They said some crimes are deserving of death row and it should be an option.

"We feel that in certain, unique circumstances in the state of Nebraska, that we need to have this ultimate punishment on certain unique cases," Douglas County Attorney Doug Kleine said.

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