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Nebraska and Mississippi
Nebraska Supreme Court Rules Electrocution Unconstitutional
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled on February 8, 2008, that electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment under the state's constitution, outlawing the electric chair in the only state that still used it as its sole means of execution.
In the landmark ruling, the court said the state legislature may vote to have a death penalty, just not one that offends rights under the state constitution. The evidence shows that electrocution inflicts "intense pain and agonizing suffering," it said.
"Condemned prisoners must not be tortured to death, regardless of their crimes," Judge William Connolly wrote in the 6-1 opinion. (N. Jenkins, "Court: Nebraska Electric Chair Not Legal" Associated Press, February 8, 2008).
Kennedy Brewer is 127th Death Row Inmate Exonerated
Kennedy Brewer, who spent 12 years on Mississippi’s death row for the 1992 murder and rape of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, has been exonerated of the charges, and another man, Justin Johnson, has been arrested for the same crime. A 2001 investigation by the Innocence Project found that the semen on the victim’s body did not match Brewer’s DNA, but did match Johnson’s. Johnson was a suspect early in the case, and his blood was collected and preserved in the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory for more than 10 years. (H. Mohr, “Man charged in child slaying for which another sentenced to death,” Associated Press, February 7, 2008).