State lawmakers debate abolishing death penalty - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

State lawmakers debate abolishing death penalty

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By: Cole Miller
cmiller@klkntv.com

There's a bill that would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole and it didn't take long for tempers to rise Monday as debate got started.

"Now we're coming to the repeal of the death penalty. It is a grave debate, it's an important debate, it's a critical debate," Omaha senator Brad Ashford said.
 
State lawmakers face a monumental issue. It's one they've seen numerous times before: whether or not to abolish the death penalty.

It's senator Ernie Chambers priority bill. 
 
"People from a distance say they love the death penalty don't know what a grotesque ceremony it is" Chambers said.

The measure would replace death with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Opponents say 32 states have death as an option and that Nebraska should remain one of them.

"As legislators and as a state and as a country, we should support the death penalty," Bancroft senator Lydia Brasch said.
 
"Colleagues, there are some crimes that are so heinous they deserve death," Scottsbluff senator John Harms said.

On the other end, senator Steve Lathrop says that since 1973, there have been more than 1,600 homicides in the state and roughly 260 death sentences. However, only one percent of them are ever executed.

And that's what fires up senator Colby Coash.
 
"It hasn't saved money," Coash said.

"It hasn't deterred crime and it hasn't executed any justice. This is our chance to go back to the taxpayers, the people who sent us here and say "we're going to do something that means something."

And as the debate continues, both sides vow to do whatever they can to make their point. Some say they're willing to give up the rest of the session on this one issue. 
 
If this bill were to make it to the Governor's desk, it wouldn't go any further than that. Heineman remains supportive of having the death penalty available to the state.

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