Nebraska governor suspends efforts to buy lethal injection drugs

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2015 11:02 AM

(Reuters) - The governor of Nebraska said the state will stop trying to acquire lethal injection drugs or carry out executions until after a statewide vote on capital punishment in November 2016.

Republican Governor Pete Ricketts said in a statement on Friday that "Nebraska voters will determine the future of capital punishment in our state at the ballot box.

"To give deference to the vote of the people, my administration will wait to carry out capital punishment sentences or make additional efforts to acquire drugs until the people of our state decide this issue," he added.

Nebraska in May became the first Republican-dominated state in more than 40 years to abolish capital punishment when state legislators overrode Ricketts' veto, but an activist group seeking to override that abolition in August gathered enough signatures to put the questions to voters next year.

Debate about executions has revived in recent years across the United States after a number of troubled lethal injections. Ricketts has called capital punishment a deterrent and supports the state referendum.

A shortage of drugs brought on by European pharmaceutical companies that do not want their products associated with executions has also made it harder for states to carry out lethal injections.

“Over the last several weeks, I have stepped up conversations with the Attorney General and the Corrections Director regarding a comprehensive review of the capital punishment protocols used in other states," Ricketts said in the Friday statement. "My administration will continue to review potential protocol changes.”

Nebraska has not executed an inmate since 1997, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks capital punishment. The state has 10 inmates on death row.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Toby Chopra)