Nebraska, Tsarnaev, and the United States’ dwindling use of the death penalty

Download PDF

 In a stunning move this morning, Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in their state. And although the Governor has promised to veto, with 32 votes in favor the legislature stands poised to override the governor and make the bill law. Doing so would make Nebraska the 19th state to repeal the death penalty, the 7th since 2007.

Meanwhile, the nation is still reacting to the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death last week for the Boston Marathon bombings.

At first blush, the two news stories may seem at odds – while capital punishment looks to be on the way out in Nebraska, it looks alive and well in one Boston federal courthouse. But appearances can be deceiving, and the nation’s reaction to the Tsarnaev sentence shows a deep conflict, even discomfort, over the death penalty.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How I Became a Believer: Amnesty’s Death Penalty Repeal Campaign in Maryland

Download PDF
More have mobilized against the death penalty as more innocents have been exonerated, and as the death penalty abolition movement has gained in strength and sophistication (Photo Credit: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images).

More have mobilized against the death penalty as more innocents have been exonerated, and as the death penalty abolition movement has gained in strength and sophistication (Photo Credit: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images).

Brian Evans is the DPAC Acting Director. This blog series tells the story of Amnesty International’s involvement in Maryland’s historic death penalty repeal campaign, featuring the memories and insights of volunteers and staff who played critical roles over more than three decades.

I started working for abolition of the death penalty when I lived in Texas. Texas is not a place where you can ignore capital punishment. They use it, at notorious levels. At the time of my initial involvement, in the late 1990’s, executions and death sentences were surging, both in Texas and across the country.

Little did I know that this was the peak of America’s love affair with the death penalty. As the century turned, as more and more innocents were exonerated, and as the death penalty abolition movement gained in strength and sophistication, support for and use of the death penalty began to decline.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST