The Omaha World-Herald reports, "Bill to abolish Nebraska death penalty is expected to advance." It's written by Martha Stoddard.
Nebraska lawmakers appear headed for another debate about abolishing the state's death penalty.
At least five of the eight Judiciary Committee members are expected to support advancement of a repeal bill.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said he would name the bill his priority for the session if it gets out of committee.
“It's always a priority for me,” he said after a public hearing Wednesday on Legislative Bill 543.
The bill, which Chambers introduced, represents the latest round in the veteran lawmaker's long-running struggle to abolish capital punishment in the state.
It would substitute life in prison without parole for the death sentence.
The bill also would eliminate legal authorization for any means of execution, making it impossible to execute the 11 men now on death row.
"Chambers takes 37th swipe at death penalty," is by Kevin O'Hanlon for the Lincoln Journal Star.
Thirty-six times he has tried. Thirty-six times he has failed. Yet, Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha continues his seemingly quixotic attempt to abolish Nebraska's death penalty.
"It's a principle with me," Chambers said Wednesday. "The state should not kill any of its residents. I don't care who the victim is. I don't care who the perpetrator is or the means by which the life was taken. The state should not kill, because it cheapens life. It hurts public morals by virtue of cheapening the life."
And with that, Chambers went before the Judiciary Committee to discuss his bill (LB542) to change the death penalty to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Chambers was re-elected to his north Omaha seat in November after sitting out four years because of term limits. Each year from 1973 to 2008, Chambers introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty. His bill passed in 1979, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.
The AP report is, "Death penalty foes make religious, cost argument," by Grant Schulte. It's via the News Times.
The state has 11 inmates on death row, but a series of legal problems with the method of execution has thwarted recent attempts. The state had previously executed prisoners using the electric chair, but the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that it was cruel and unusual punishment. Lawmakers voted the following year to replace the electric chair with lethal injection, but the state has not executed anyone using that method.
The sister of murder victim James Thimm said the death penalty has prolonged her family's suffering by keeping her brother's killer in the public eye. Thimm's killer, Michael Ryan, has sat on Nebraska's death row for more than 25 years after his conviction.
"Closure is a myth," Miriam Thimm Kelle said. "The death penalty does absolutely nothing for families, except more pain. It prevents the state from doing other things that could help prevent violent crime or solve cold cases."
Several who testified said the state uses the punishment unfairly, in some cases giving prison time instead of a death sentence for an equally heinous killing.
"Bill would abolish death penalty in Nebraska," is by Joseph Moore of the Nebraska News Service. It's via the Rapid City Journal.
Nebraska would become the 18th state in the United States to abolish the death penalty under a bill introduced by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard testimony March 13 on LB 543.
The bill would get rid of the death penalty in the state and replace it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Nebraska has executed three people since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the resumption of executions after a two-year moratorium. There are currently 11 inmates on death row in the state.
In his remarks before the committee, Chambers called the death penalty a “negative influence on public morality” and cited Pope John Paul II’s call for the abolition of state-sponsored executions.
“The experience of this state with the death penalty has been fraught with errors, frustration and delay due to the constitutional mistakes in the statute,” Chambers said.
Additional coverage includes:
"Legislature debates removal of Nebraska death penalty," by Josh Egbert for KHAS-TV.
"Death penalty foes make religious, cost argument," at KETV-TV.
NET Nebraska reports, "Death penalty abolition considered," by Fred Knapp.