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Should Nebraska have a death penalty?

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Posted at 7:40 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 20:40:38-04
Wednesday, the Nebraska attorney general questioned a study by Creighton economist Ernie Goss about the cost of the death penalty.
 
Thursday, both sides of whether or not Nebraska should keep capital punishment debated in downtown Omaha.
 
Those against capital punishment say it costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year and runs the risk of putting innocent people to death. 
 
Those in favor say it protects prison staff, police and saves lives by deterring crime.
 
"So we now have people who have been sentenced to death and have been sitting there not for years, but for decades," said State Senator Colby Coash, Lincoln. 
 
Coash referenced a Creighton study last month showing that Nebraskans spend $14.6 million per year on a death penalty that hasn't been used since 1996.
 
Other studies released since suggests that abolishing capital punishment in Nebraska would save much less than millions. 
 
"You have to ask yourself this question, because the legislature asked itself this question over and over again: regardless of the cost, is the taxpayer getting what he or she paid for?" Coash said. 
 
Senator Coash says the death penalty should not be an option because innocent people are sometimes put to death.
 
Attorney Bob Evnen disagrees.
 
Evnen says there has never been an innocent person executed in Nebraska.
 
"I can't justify the Jim Crow south,” Evnen said. “I cannot justify the corruption of other states. This is state issue for our state. And I can tell you in our state, we have never executed an innocent person." 
 
Because the death penalty deters crime, it saves lives, Evnen said.
 
"If we know or have good reason to believe the death penalty saves innocent human lives, then isn't it the case that it's not only morally permissible, it's morally required," Evnen said.
 
The legislature overturned a veto last year that would have kept Nebraska’s death penalty intact. 
 
Voters have a chance in November to repeal last year's decision that abolished capital punishment in Nebraska.