Tri-Cities Residents React to Death Penalty Petition Drive

By  | 

Grand Island, Neb. -- As a petition drive reaches its halfway point to get the death penalty back on the 2016 ballot, Tri-Cities residents speak out on the issue.

"I think decreasing the populations in the prisons is a good idea," Grand Island resident Debra Austin said. "A 'ife for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I think the punishment should fit the crime in every conviction."

"I do believe some people commit heinous enough crimes that deserve that and they've had their chances," resident Juan Bazan said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts just donated $100,000 to Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, matching his first donation in June.

State lawmakers abolished the death penalty last spring despite the governor's veto.

It's unclear how many signatures the group already has at this point. It needs to gather 58,000 by August 27 to get the issue on the ballot.

The stance against the measure is gaining just as much support.

"I think the legislature got it right when they realized that we're never going to probably execute anyone," Hastings resident Andrew Callahan said. "We waste an awful lot of money and awful lot of time puting this on the ballot."

The Nebraskans for Public Safety campaign is getting support from state leaders to try to keep Nebraska's death penalty in the past.

"We're really confused about the petition drive for many reasons because even if their campaign is successful or even if a vote to the people were to repeal the action of the legislature, Nebraska will still be no closer to carrying out executions," said Danielle Conrad, spokesperson for Nebraskans for Public Safety. "It's been about 20 years since we've been able to do so and we don't have the legal means."

There has not been an execution in Nebraska since 1997.