Undecided fate for death row inmates
Posted By: Megan Conway
After the monumental decision by the Legislature to abolish the death penalty, everyone is wondering, will the inmates on death row still be put to death?
It depends on who you talk to, but the Attorney General’s office released this statement:
“The Attorney General intends to seek a court decision, at the appropriate time, to definitively resolve the issue of the state’s authority to carry out the death sentences previously ordered by Nebraska’s courts for the 10 inmates now on death row.”
After speaking with multiple attorneys, they say that’s not possible.
“It (LB 268) repealed a number of statutes, and the statutes that authorize execution through lethal injection, all those statutes were repealed, so there is no legal method to execute someone in Nebraska,” says Jim Mowbray, chief counsel for the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.
Mowbray as well as Jerry Soucie have represented multiple inmates currently on death row, as well as the Beatrice 6. The next step for these inmates is to apply to change their sentence to life in prison by the Board of Pardons, but they could still never be paroled.
“The only way that they can be paroled would be if the Board of Pardons commutes their sentence to a term of years,” says Soucie, a Lincoln attorney.
That isn’t out of the question, but inmates would have to apply again to make that change. The Board of Pardons is made up of the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General. Mowbray says one positive about repealing the death penalty actually has nothing to do with the inmates, but with jurors.
“I know in talking to them later that that was very difficult and it was much more stressful knowing that that is a possibility that their decision could end up resulting in somebody being sentenced to death,” says Mowbray.
There’s yet another issue. The Governor says he’s already purchased lethal injection drugs, but according to MSNBC, the FDA has told them it would be unlawful to import these drugs into the U.S. for lethal injections and that the FDA would refuse its admission into the states.