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AG calls death row cost report inaccurate

Posted at 3:58 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 18:19:44-04

An analysis done by Creighton University Professor Ernie Goss says that taxpayers pay about $1.4 million a year per Nebraska death row inmate and there are only 10 of them.  Wednesday, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson wanted to refute some of those claims that Goss has made.

AG Peterson says the costs for a death row inmate not significantly higher than another first degree murder convict.  He says the report by Dr. Goss that says Nebraska spends $14 million a year on death row inmates is way off.

Peterson used 10 cases of people executed on death row in Nebraska which he says shows they only have about 3 more trial days compared to others, don't get more appeals, and the housing isn't any more expensive.

"What really drives the cost of any first degree murder case is the complexity of the case, and to suggest otherwise is not accurate based upon our own experience and based upon information provided in the history of these 10 cases,” Peterson explained.

Goss' report suggests death row inmates average about 89 total court dates, and the money totals are based on Nebraska Census information, and numbers from other states.

Senator Kate Bolz on behalf of Retain A Just Nebraska says the 10 death row inmates take a whole prison wing that could house 30, they get 40 different appeals, and there's three parts to their trial instead of one.

"I think Nebraska is a populous state and we like to make decisions based on independent thinking and critical analysis and I think Dr. Goss' report is helpful and informative for those voters who will be taking their vote seriously in November,” Sen. Bolz described.

While Peterson said there are significant discrepancies in the cost he didn't provide what he believes is the actual cost.

In 2015, the Nebraska Legislature did vote to repeal the death penalty so the referendum actually says if you want to retain that repeal or repeal the repeal.  If you are pro death penalty you want to check repeal and if you’re anti-death penalty you would want to check retain. 

The general election is November 8th.