Nebraska’s death penalty repeal was temporary, but it changed inmates’ sentences, ACLU argues

Nebraska’s death penalty repeal was temporary, but it changed inmates’ sentences, ACLU argues
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services' execution room in Lincoln, as seen from the viewing room. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Was the State Legislature’s repeal of the death penalty in effect long enough to give the members of Nebraska’s death row a new sentence of life in prison?

Yes, an attorney with a leading civil rights organization told the Nebraska Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Brian Stull, a North Carolina-based lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told judges that the repeal went into effect on Aug. 30, 2015, and wasn’t suspended until Oct. 16, when petition signatures were verified as sufficient to force a voter referendum on the future of capital punishment.

“Because a repeal was in effect, my clients no longer face the death penalty,” he said.

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