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Death penalty drugs scrutinized in Lincoln

Posted: 5:23 PM, Oct 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-06 22:23:20Z
Death penalty opponents are again raising questions about Governor Pete Ricketts spending 54,000 taxpayer dollars on lethal injection drugs from India that never arrived.   
  
The state will likely never recover the money and death penalty opponents say it's another reason why capital punishment should end in Nebraska.
 
Retain a Just Nebraska was in Lincoln Thursday, reiterating reasons to keep capital punishment out of the state. 
 
Trouble getting a hold of lethal injection drugs is one of several reasons the group wants voters in November to uphold last year’s appeal. 
 
“The stakes on this issue are just too high,” said Colby Coash, Republican senator, Lincoln. “In the last 20 years when there was a lot of attempts to try and carry out an execution, there was not one colleague who tried to hide this in secrecy even though that might be a fix to it." 
 
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty Co-Founder Bob Evnen says the reasons behind rejecting the drugs Ricketts tried to buy are thin. 
 
Evnen says he's confident voters will reinstate the death penalty on Election Day.  
 
“There are ways of doing this that don't involve the importation of drugs,” Evnen said. “It probably would require legislative change to do that. My thinking is that legislators will respect the will of the people." 
 
Even if Nebraska can get a hold of the drugs needed to execute inmates, part of the reason drug companies are reluctant to make them is because they are inhumane, said Eric Berger, UNL law professor and lethal injection expert. 
 
"This is a serious risk that the inmate will suffer an excruciating death,” Berger said. “Everyone agrees that the third drug in the protocol, potassium chloride, is like being burned alive. It's like being burned at the stake inside your veins." 
 
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the federal lethal injection concoction is constitutional.
 
"Other states do it,” Evnen said. “Other states have found ways to do it. We can do it too. What my hope is, is that Nebraskans will vote to keep the death penalty."