In Nebraska, a sentence of life prohibits the inmate from being paroled. Life in prison without parole is a smart sentence that puts public safety first. It also is less expensive than the death penalty.
The death penalty does not keep us safer because it does not prevent murders. States with the death penalty, such as Missouri, have a higher murder rate (8.3 per 100,000) than nearby states that don’t have a death penalty, such as Iowa (2.3 per 100,000). Eight of the 10 states that still have the death penalty have the highest murder rates. Even murder rates inside prisons are lower in states that don’t have the death penalty. Those convicted of murder say that they never considered whether there was a death penalty
Not having the death penalty also does not cause murderers to be released to kill again. With extremely rare exceptions (1 in the U.S. every 20 or 30 years), those who are released and then kill have not been convicted of murder but of lesser offenses, such as manslaughter.
The death penalty itself does kill the innocent. All across the U.S., convictions of death row inmates have been overturned because DNA evidence has absolved them of guilt. So far, over 150 death row inmates have been released.
The death penalty also is used as a threat, abusively, against innocent persons, such as the Beatrice six, to coerce them into accepting plea bargains. Those of limited mental capacity especially suffer.
The death penalty does not provide closure to victims’ families. Instead, they must face years of appeals, reversals, and media attention. Many victims’ families testified against the death penalty in Nebraska during the legislative process which ended Nebraska’s death penalty. In addition, Nebraska ranks last in support for victims of crimes; money saved without the death penalty could be used to increase this support.