Today the Nebraska legislature voted to override Governor Ricketts’ veto of a measure repealing the death penalty. Nebraska will now become the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment, and the seventh state to repeal the death penalty in the past eight years.
"Nebraska’s legislature has bravely stood up for human rights by upholding this bill,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “As the nation and the world continue to abandon this broken and unjust punishment, it is only a matter of time before the 31 remaining states end the death penalty forever.”
Amnesty International has documented a steady decline in the use of the death penalty in the United States and around the world. In addition to the 19 states plus the District of Columbia that have abolished the death penalty, seven more states have not carried out an execution in 10 years or more. In 2014, only seven states carried out executions.
Death sentences in the U.S. have declined annually 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 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.