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Tuesday, November 8 is just around the corner, the day Nebraskans will choose their representatives who pledge to support the type of government Nebraskans want.
Nationally, our choice for leadership positions will have a big impact on state policy. From the Supreme Court and the sanctity of life and the family, to regulatory policies, illegal immigration, from the military and national security, unaffordable health care, to a bankrupting national debt and the disregard for the rule of law, there is much at stake in this election.
Statewide, there are 11 term-limited senators and 13 running for re-election to their second, and final, 4-year term. Basically there are about 25 of 49 seats up for reelection every two years. In the past 10 years, Nebraskans have elected 86 new senators. In two years, when my term is done, along with five other senators, there will have been a 100% turnover. New ideas and leadership emerge with each election cycle.
As much as this sounds like a revolving door, oddly enough some key issues, such as meaningful tax relief, remain stagnant. Instead of addressing heavy taxation, Nebraska became only the 20th state to repeal capital punishment. For one, I hear many more people asking for meaningful tax relief than from those wanting senators to repeal the death penalty. I understand this to be the case across the state as well. This became clear when Referendum 426 successfully gained more than enough signatures to challenge Senator Chambers’s LB268, which repealed capital punishment. On November 8, I will vote “Repeal” in order to repeal LB268, so Nebraska retains the ultimate punishment for those who commit heinous murders and who continue to not only be a danger to law enforcement and the general prison population, but also to society.
Claims that have been made to repeal the death penalty include “times have changed, prisons are more secure than ever” and “life without parole ensures society is safe”. However, building bigger and safer prisons requires more tax dollars in a very stagnant economy, and Nebraska is already facing prison overcrowding. Consider the riot in the Tecumseh prison last year that took the life of one inmate, injured others, and endangered prison guards. If capital punishment is repealed, individuals who commit capital crimes will be housed among the general population of the prison. What about the safety of corrections officers and other inmates? Life without parole sounds good on paper, but in reality, murderers would therefore have nothing to lose and society would be unable to protect itself against those who continue to pose a serious danger to innocent life.
Other claims cite the cost of the death penalty. However, the fiscal note, or cost, of LB268, per the Legislative Fiscal Office, is zero. In other words, the state will not save money without the death penalty. The opposite in fact may occur, as there will not only continue to be appeals for those with life in prison, but the use of the plea bargain as a tool for county prosecutors to plea down from capital punishment to life in prison will no longer be available, which will make it much more difficult for county prosecutors to keep society safe.
Another claim is that death row inmates have been exonerated. That has not occurred in Nebraska and there is no evidence that Nebraska has executed a single innocent person since before 1900. Also, if people are being exonerated in other parts of the country, that means the appeal process is working as it should; and as technology continues to improve, so will the justice system’s accuracy in ensuring that the person executed is the correct individual. These are important facts that should perhaps be taken into consideration.