The last state has finally accepted what has been obvious to 49 other states: electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment. The Nebraska Supreme Court barred the use of the electric chair in the last state that still used it as its sole means of execution.
It should be a source of great embarrassment to the state of Nebraska that its legislature had to be judicially barred from the use of this form of execution. The state supreme court ruled that the method causes “intense pain and agonizing suffering. . . Condemned prisoners must not be tortured to death, regardless of their crimes.”
It was a 6-1 decision and a long overdue end to electrocution in the United States as a method of execution. For a column on this and other forms of execution, click here
Only Chief Justice Mike Heavican dissented: bucking the opinion of not only his colleagues but the collective weight of scientific research.
The ruling spared Raymond Mata Jr. from facing this form of execution. Mata was convicted of the 1999 killing and dismemberment of 3-year-old Adam Gomez of Scottsbluff, the son of his former girlfriend.
He will still die for his crime.
Notably, the electric chair remains a possible method of execution in nine other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Those states use lethal injection but have electrocution as a back up system.
The Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the use of lethal injection and its standard three-drug regimen.
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