WASHINGTON — Today the Nebraska legislature passed a measure repealing the death penalty, leaving that state poised to become the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment. The measure passed with enough votes to override a promised veto from Governor Ricketts.
"Nebraska becomes the latest state to acknowledge that the death penalty is an irrevocably broken and unjust practice,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“The legislature has taken a courageous step forward for human rights. Rather than stand in the way, Governor Ricketts should get on the right side of history by signing this bill into law. The remaining states that retain the death penalty should follow Nebraska’s example and do away with this cruel and inhuman punishment forever.”
Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world. Eighteen U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty, and seven more states have not carried out an execution in 10 years or more. In 2014, only seven states carried out any executions.
Annual death sentences in the U.S. have declined since 2000. In the last eight years the number of death sentences has been lower than any time since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In 2014 there were 72 death sentences, the lowest number on record since 1976. Executions have declined as well, from a high of 98 in 1999 to just 35 in 2014, the lowest in 20 years.
Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The U.S. was one of only nine countries in the world that carried out executions each year between 2009 and 2013.