By Effie Caldarola, Field Organizer with Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Nebraska is an exciting place to be right now for supporters of death penalty repeal. There is a vibe in the air that tells us that our “red state” may be ready to join the ranks of those rejecting this failed system. In 2013, we had enough legislative votes to repeal, but were stymied by a filibuster. This year, due to term limits, we face a legislature with about one third new faces. Although many suggest this is a more conservative legislature, we are heartened to see that the message of repeal is increasingly becoming a conservative issue, whether because of a concern for the dignity of life, or the fiscal irresponsibility of the death penalty, or the inherent injustice of the system.
Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty has a strong Nebraska following. At the same time, support from religious congregations is increasing in volume and intensity. The Methodist Church, among others, has been consistently vocal. The Catholic Church in Nebraska continues to make this issue a priority and the large number of pro-life supporters in the Church and across the state are becoming a strong force for repeal. Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has pursued repeal with increased vigor, bringing Vicki and Sylvester Schieber, and Frank Thompson, former head of corrections in Oregon, into the state for tours. We are benefiting from positive media across our large state. An extensive grassroots letter writing campaign has mobilized. Our social media campaign is strong.
LB268, a bill to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without parole, has been introduced, and a hearing for the bill will come before the Judiciary Committee on March 4. That day the NADP has planned a Lobby Day with supporters gathering from throughout the state to meet with their legislators at lunch in the capitol and attend the hearing. The struggle is not over in Nebraska by any means. Our supporters know that the next few months are crucial and will involve great effort. If you want to become involved in this historic movement, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.