For the 37th time, Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha has introduced legislation to abolish the state’s death penalty, reports the Lincoln Journal Star. “It’s a principle with me,” Chambers said. “The state should not kill any of its residents. I don’t care who the victim is. I don’t care who the perpetrator is or the means by which the life was taken.” Chambers was re-elected in November after sitting out four years because of term limits. Each year from 1973 to 2008, Chambers introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty. His bill passed in 1979, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.
Among those supporting the bill was the Nebraska Innocence Project, which is part of a national network to give free legal representation to people wrongly convicted of crimes. The use of the death penalty is in sharp decline, statistics show. Nine states carried out executions in 2012, compared with 13 the year before. The number of executions in 2012 (43) was 56 percent less than at the peak in 1999. The number of people sentenced to death in 2012 (78) represented a 75 percent decline since 1996, when there were 315 sentences. Thirty-three states, the U.S. government and the U.S. military have the death penalty, though Maryland is on the verge of abolishment. There are 11 men on Nebraska’s death row.