Capital punishment is withering away, contends columnist George Will, although he admits that death sentences to people like Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev “satisfies a sense of moral proportionality.” Nebraska is not a nest of liberals, Will says. Yet on Wednesday its 49-member unicameral legislature voted 32 to 15 to abolish the death penalty. Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, vows to veto it.
Nebraska death penalty opponents, including a majority of Nebraskans, say it is expensive without demonstrably enhancing public safety or being a solace to families of murder victims. Some Nebraska families say the extended legal processes surrounding the death penalty prolong their suffering. That sentiment is shared by Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son was killed by Tsarnaev. Will gives the conservative case against executions, concluding that, “Capital punishment, say proponents, serves social catharsis. But administering it behind prison walls indicates a healthy squeamishness that should herald abolition.”