By: Stacy Anderson, Executive Director

I pulled to the side of the road. I could no longer see through the tears. They had found her body. This girl who I had mentored for a few years, had gone missing, and I had been holding out hope they would find her alive. My grief gave way to rage as an acquaintance from my high school years turned himself in and confessed to her murder. I wanted him dead!

Still, the teachings of my faith started running through my brain. Vengeance is not mine. Forgive as I’ve been forgiven. Love my enemies. I was conflicted to say the least.

Growing up in Nebraska, in a conservative household, I was taught to believe if you killed someone, you should be killed—simple as that…it’s Justice! However, as I read up on the subject, I was horrified to learn the truth about the death penalty in the U.S. It is a painfully broken system, full of racial/class bias, innocence issues, and arbitrary judicial technicalities. Even though I had received my bachelor’s degree in political science and worked at the Legislature, I still had not learned about the complexity of capital punishment.

I could no longer be in favor of the death penalty. I could not even stay on the fence. I had to take a stand against it. My faith had also taught me that complacency in the face of injustice is just as bad as carrying out the injustice myself. So, I joined the movement. I started donating to NADP, talking to friends and family and writing to government officials. Not long after I joined the NADP board, we learned that Jill Francke would be leaving to go to grad school in Chicago.

After the interview process, I was humbled and thrilled to be selected as the next Executive Director. I could not be coming in at a better time in the Nebraska movement. As Nebraska continues to struggle financially and the state seems to be cutting corners to get the lethal injection drugs needed, Nebraskans are asking if the death penalty is worth our time and money.

In addition to the changes in the legal/political landscape, Jill has done amazing work in her time at NADP, building an incredibly sturdy base for the future. I am forever indebted to her for carrying on the tradition of hard work that was started in 1981 at NADP. It is nice to know I am not starting from square one, but coming alongside a group of people who have invested much into this movement to get us to where we are today.

I hope to carry on this work as seamlessly as possible, and keep the momentum rolling toward abolition! I also hope to forge new partnerships and coalitions with people who are currently indifferent about and uninvolved in the movement. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to meeting and working with many of you in the coming months.