Our office has reviewed the report issued for an anti-death penalty group by Ernie Goss of Goss Institute from Denver, Colorado, regarding the death penalty in Nebraska. Relying heavily on studies from California, Florida, Texas, and other states, this group’s report fails to accurately reflect actual costs associated with the death penalty in Nebraska.
When questioned at the group’s press conference as to the biggest factor causing this high cost, Goss speculated it was the appeals that had been sought by prisoners on death row. The Nebraska Attorney General’s office handles all criminal appeals filed in the State of Nebraska, including those filed by inmates who are facing the death penalty. The total number of criminal appeals filed is approximately 500 per year. Of that number, less than 1% of all criminal appeals are filed in capital cases annually. It is misleading for this report to conclude that, on an annual basis, having the death penalty costs an amount that far exceeds the total annual budgets of both the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and the State Public Defender’s Office, combined.
Nebraska voters are entitled to accurate Nebraska figures as they determine whether to keep the death penalty in Nebraska. This report fails to do that.