Death Penalty Debate Heats Up in Unicameral - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Death Penalty Debate Heats Up in Unicameral

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Nabil Molai

Lincoln (KPTM) - Term limits are forcing him out, but Ernie Chambers hopes to leave on a high note. Once again he's trying to get rid of Nebraska's death penalty. This time, he has some strong support.

"The death penalty is a very gloomy and solemn subject," said State Senator Ernie Chambers, "The anger that any person might feel, should not become the settle policy of a state, a person acts on emotions and the emotions of a moment." 

A packed house heard Friday's hearing on Chambers' latest bill. Most who spoke out were against capital punishment. Curtis McCarty, against the death penalty says, "We make mistakes, we do put innocent people in jail, and we put them on death row."

Curtis McCarty was sentenced to die in Oklahoma in 1982. McCarty says, "Confined 23 hours a day to this small cage with very little to do, no social contacts, little contact with family and visitors."

After 19 years on death row, a judge made McCarty a free man. "Generally you would feel elated that you were vindicated, but it was more sad then it was anything," McCarty says.

McCarty hoped to give others on death row the same chance he had. He wasn't alone, as his fight found some surprising support.

Miriam Kelle, another against the death penalty says, "The death penalty is unfair, costs more, and causes innocent people to be executed." Miriam Kelle's brother was murdered 23 years ago.

"When you think things through, you know that's not the right process, is it smart for you to have that anger in you?" Kelle says.

No one testified in favor of the death penalty at Friday's hearing, but there were two County Attorneys who wanted the bill to be clarified,explaining  the difference between a sentence of life or a sentence of life without parole.

One attorney testified a death penalty case could cost a county more than a half a million dollars after all the appeals.

Senator Chambers says, "The state should not kill anybody." For now, Chambers is hoping for better luck than he's had in the past three decades.

The committee will look over the bill for the next couple of weeks before voting on whether to send it to the floor for debate.

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