Nebraska Puts Hold On Purchases Of Lethal Injection Drugs

Last week the governor of Nebraska announced that he would stop attempting to import execution drugs – and conduct executions – until the state votes on a repeal of the death penalty.  That repeal was passed by the Nebraska legislature in May, and the governor’s veto was overridden.  However, enough signatures were gathered to put the matter to a vote of the people, and the rationale behind the governor’s statement is to wait for the people to express their official opinion.

However, earlier this year the governor was in a bit of a hurry to deal with the inmates remaining on the state’s death row following the passage of the bill (but before its implementation).  So at least some of the governor’s reasoning has changed since June.

This decision probably reflects the continued difficulty of obtaining sufficient quantities of the needed drugs.  Efforts to import drugs purchased from India failed in August due to action by the Food and Drug Administration, and an attempt to purchase drugs from a domestic source in October also failed.  So the governor can publicly defer to public will, even as private failures make a promise to not obtain execution drugs easy to keep.

Nebraska will vote on the death penalty repeal in November 2016.

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