The legislature of the US state of Nebraska has approved abolishing the death penalty there in a 30-19 vote, a sufficient majority to avert a veto attempt by Governor Pete Ricketts, Efe news agency reported.
The sponsors of the initiative needed exactly 30 votes to overcome the veto issued Tuesday by Ricketts, whose pressure campaign managed to get two senators who had initially supported abolishing capital punishment in the state to do an about face.
Independent state Senator Ernie Chambers has been leading the fight to abolish capital punishment in Nebraska for 40 years, and the senators who supported him, many of whom belong to a new generation of Republicans, questioned the death penalty on religious grounds and because of the difficulties of implementing it in Nebraska, where no prisoner has been executed since 1997.
They also questioned the possibility that innocent people might be executed and said that life in prison was a better alternative than carrying out a death sentence.
With the decision on Wednesday, Nebrasks becomes the 19th US state to abolish capital punishment. It is still legal in 31 states, but there are about 10 in which a moratorium on executions has been imposed.
The abolition of capital punishment in Nebraska is especially significant given that it is the first conservative state to do so in more than 40 years and it comes at a moment in which the appropriateness of the death penalty is being increasingly questioned.