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USA: state of Nebraska set to carry out first execution in 21 years

Execution gurneys have been less and less used in the USA in the last two decades © AP GraphicsBank

‘The US capital justice system is fundamentally broken’ - Kristina Roth

Amnesty International is urging the authorities in the US state of Nebraska to cancel plans to carry out its first execution in 21 years.

Prison authorities in the state have scheduled the lethal injection execution of Carey Dean Moore for tomorrow.

Mr Moore, who was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of two taxi drivers, is not contesting his execution but it could nevertheless be delayed by a lawsuit from a German pharmaceutical company over claims that the state illegally obtained the company’s drugs to use in tomorrow’s lethal injection.

The execution is set to be the first in the USA to use the drug fentanyl as part of a lethal injection.

The last execution in Nebraska took place in 1997, one of only three executions the state has conducted since 1976 - all three were conducted in the 1990s and carried out by electrocution. 

Since 1997, seven US states have abolished the death penalty and four others have imposed moratoriums on executions.

Amnesty activists have been calling on Nebraska not to allow executions to resume. 

Kristina Roth, Amnesty International USA’s Senior Programme Officer for Criminal Justice Programmes, said:
“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights.

“Rather than joining those states that have turned against this cruel and irrevocable punishment, Nebraska chooses to take a backward step that provides no constructive solutions to the challenges posed by violent crime.

“The US capital justice system is fundamentally broken.”

Amnesty opposes the death penalty unconditionally, regardless of the crime or the method of execution used. 

Changed landscape since 1997

In 1997, there were 74 executions and 266 new death sentences in the USA. Ten years later this had fallen to 42 executions and 126 death sentences. Last year, there were 23 executions and 39 death sentences. 

Since 1997, seven states have abolished the death penalty (New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware), while governors in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington State have imposed moratoriums on executions.

Globally, more than 40 countries have abolished the death penalty for all or ordinary crimes since 1997, bringing to 142 the number of countries that are abolitionist in law or practice.

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