Each legislative session the legislature must confront a host of social issues which are emotional and often times very divisive. Capital punishment continues to be on the legislative agenda. Nebraska is one of several states that continue to have the death penalty for first degree murder if the particular crime rises to an elevated degree of heinousness as define in statute. I support the use of the death penalty; however, each time the issue comes up I try to open my mind and be as judicial in my consideration as possible. I am troubled by how long convicted and sentenced felons stay on death row prior to the sentence being carried out. Punishment to be effective needs to be swift. Yet, we as a society must recognize the possibility of error and allow the appeals process to work. Our judicial system must be blind to race or socioeconomic status when handing down the death sentence or any sentence; yet, statistics tell a different story.
In the 2007 legislative session a bill to repeal the death sentence completely and impose a sentence of life without parole was debated. Though I support the use of the death penalty, I did vote to move the repeal bill to the second round of debate. Personally, I wanted to hear more debate. To me the issue is not simple, it is not black or white; rather, it is complicated and thought provoking. I wanted to be right in my vote. Later in the session a different bill came forward which would have allowed the death penalty but only in cases wherein the convicted felon presented a significant enough threat to those around him to reasonably disallow incarceration. I voted against this bill because I felt like it only made imposing the death penalty more subjective. In my opinion the bill didn't solve any of my concerns about the way persons are sentenced to death it only opened the door to more problems. During the 2008 legislative session we again debated the use of capital punishment this time the debate was shrouded with the fact that the Nebraska Supreme Court had ruled the use of the electric chair unconstitutional. I voted with the majority to keep capital punishment. During the 2009 session lethal injection was debated as a substitute for the electric chair and I voted for lethal injection.