May 27, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kathy Spillman, 2670.519.4583; 267.847.1482; firstname.lastname@example.org
Innocence Plays a Critical Role in Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal:
Legislators vote to override Governor Pete Rickett’s Veto
(Philadelphia) On Wednesday, May 27 Nebraska became the first Republican-controlled state since 1973 to repeal the death penalty. The Unicameral voted to override Governor Pete Rickett’s veto of LB268, the bill to repeal the death penalty.
After three rounds of voting, the Nebraska legislature overwhelmingly passed LB268, the bill to repeal the death penalty, on May 20. While Governor Pete Ricketts swiftly vetoed the bill, the legislature held onto enough votes to override the veto, making Nebraska the 19th state to abolish capital punishment. Witness to Innocence applauds the heroic stand of Nebraska’s state legislators who supported repeal, particularly the bill’s sponsor, Omaha State Senator Ernie Chambers, and the extraordinary efforts of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and EJUSA to abolish the death penalty.
Innocence played a critical role in the abolition of the death penalty in Nebraska. Death Row exoneree Ray Krone, Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence, spent the last several months visiting Nebraska, telling his story of wrongful conviction and educating the public on the dangers of sending an innocent person to death row. Senator Robert Hilkemann (R) remarked on the powerful impact of meeting Krone, “The turning point in my decision [to vote for repeal] began April 1, during a personal conversation in my office with Ray Krone. Ray had been falsely accused and convicted of murder in Arizona in the 90’s and was given the death sentence. Ray had been at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Krone responded to the bill’s passage, “It’s a good day for Nebraska and the country. Before my wrongful conviction, I had been a proponent of the death penalty. I believed it should be reserved for the worst of the worst, but after spending 10 years in prison for a crime I did not commit, I’ve come to understand that the risk of executing an innocent human being is far too large to take. Nebraska has taken the right step in ensuring that no innocent person is sent to their death.”
Witness to Innocence (WTI) is the only national organization in the United States composed of and led by exonerated death row survivors and their family members. The mission of WTI is to abolish the death penalty by empowering exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones to become effective leaders in the abolition movement. WTI actively challenges political leaders and the public to grapple with the reality of a fatally flawed criminal justice system that sends innocent people to death row. WTI also seeks ways to support death row survivors and their loved ones as they confront the challenges of life after exoneration. To learn more, please visit our website or e-mail email@example.com.