On Wednesday, Nebraska repealed the death penalty when the Senate overrode a veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts had worked hard to get senators to flip their votes and he only needed three to change their minds, but in the end, he came up one short. The historic significance of the event attracted a large group of onlookers, legislative staffers and media who watched as a 2 hour debate began at 1:30 p.m.
The slow death that capital punishment is experiencing nationwide, dates back to the turn of the century. The number of inmates put to death in 2014 was the fewest in 20 years, while the number of new death sentences imposed— 72 — was the fewest in modern American history. Only one state, Missouri, has accelerated its rate of executions during that period, but even in the Show Me State, the number of new sentences has plunged.
Currently, 32 states allow capital punishment for the most heinous crimes. And yet in most of the country, the ultimate penalty is now hollow. Since the start of 2014, all but two of the nation’s 49 executions have been carried out by just five states: Texas, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia.