blank penWe’re pleased to announce the winners of the “Writing against the Death Penalty” contest. The list of winners and their submissions are below.
Writers age 18 and under
Category 1: Poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction
Kyleigh Murray: “The Criminals”
Category 2: Journalism, rhetoric/argument           
Julia Abraham: “We Can Erase the Death Penalty”

Writers age 19 and over
Category 3: Poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction
Mark Arneson: 
“Body Surfing (at the Execution)”
Category 4: Journalism, rhetoric/argument
Christine Starr Davis: “Life Costs Less”

Each of the winners will receive a $100 prize. Thank you to everyone who entered! Many thanks also to our judges and to Fran Kaye for organizing the contest.

shaneclaiborne_lgNational bestselling Christian author and activist Shane Claiborne will be in Nebraska in June to promote his new book Executing Grace and to join the conversation about Nebraska’s death penalty leading up to this November’s ballot question. 

He will be speaking in Lincoln at South Gate United Methodist Church (3500 Pioneers Blvd) on Tuesday, June 7th There will be a first come/first serve book signing from 5:00-5:30 followed by a talk and Q&A from 5:30-7:00.

Claiborne will also be speaking in Omaha at Faith Westwood United Methodist Church (4814 Oaks Lane) on Tuesday, June 7th at 8:00, with a Q&A to follow. Copies of his new book will be available for $15.

Books will be available for $15. The event is being sponsored by Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty – there is no cost. For more information, contact Matt at 402-650-4485.’

NADP is a founding member and partner organization in Nebraskans for Public Safety (N4PS) the campaign that led the Decline to Sign effort this summer, and will work to ensure repeal is protected at the 2016 general elections. Here is the latest update from Nebraskans for Public Safety:

We have successfully laid the foundation for what will be a strong General Election campaign. Because of you, we can compete with the deep pockets of our opponents. While we are going to work tirelessly
to monitor the petition validation process to ensure that it is fair and legal, we are going to start looking ahead to the work that needs to be done in order to keep our broken death penalty where it
belongs, in the past.

This is where you come in. One way you can help us is by writing or submitting a letter to the editor to your local paper. We are in need of letters to the editor every week in every paper across this state. We are willing to help draft the letters and assist your supporters
in whatever way necessary.

In addition to letters, we are going to begin collecting hundreds of personal stories of why Nebraskans are opposed to the death penalty. We would like these stories to come from all across the state. We will create a central hub for our stories through our website where Nebraskans can go to read about why the death penalty is broken and the pain it causes so many who become ensnared in the system.  Stay tuned for more information about how you can share your story.

Finally, we are looking for strong volunteers to step up and serve as “County Captains” for our general election campaign. The County Campaign will help us in three main areas:

Serve as a central location to mail campaign materials when necessary. Research community organizations, leaders, and groups that might be willing to join our effort and passing our campaign message along to them. Monitor their local papers and report any stories and LTEs relating to our issues to the campaign. This will ensure we have eyes and ears on the ground to respond immediately to any false claims made by our opponents.   Please email us at if you would like more information, or want to sign up with help with letters to the editor and/or becoming a County Captain.

A lawsuit filed last week says the ballot initiative process to try
to undo death penalty repeal didn’t properly identify the leaders
behind the effort and thus the ballot initiative  isn’t valid.

“Petition signers should have been told the “true and actual
sponsors” of the referendum drive because it could have influenced
their decision, the lawsuit says. It also argues that Ricketts used
his title as governor to raise money in letters to residents over the

Read the full article here.

This Buzzfeed story has the latest in the ongoing saga over attempts
to illegally import executions drugs into our state:

“Nebraska ordered more than $50,000 of sodium thiopental and other
execution drugs from a distributor in India named Chris Harris in
May. The Food and Drug Administration has consistently maintained
that importing the drug would be illegal, but the state has shown
every intention of moving forward regardless. The FDA says it will
not allow the drug into the U.S.”

Richard Glossip is the Oklahoma death row inmate who was scheduled to be executed September 16th but received a last minute stay due to the many troubling questions in his case.  Read this letter from a variety of community leaders explaining the troubling details of his case, including Barry Switzer, head football coach at the University of Oklahoma.

“The writers of this letter have a wide range of professional
backgrounds and political perspectives. But we share a deep concern
about the integrity of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma and
throughout the United States. We are particularly concerned about the
danger of executing an innocent man. Could that really happen? In the
United States, in 2015?

Yes, it could.”

Read the whole letter here. 

Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NADP) said the latest finance report filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on behalf of those who are seeking a return of the death penalty shows that Nebraskans have other priorities.

In the latest filing, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty spent $903, 000 to put the death penalty on the ballot in November 2016.

“Frankly, I’m stunned that they would spend so extravagantly just to collect signatures. Nebraskans are more concerned with a fair tax rate, fixing roads and affordable healthcare than they are with the effort to bring back the death penalty,” said Rev. Stephen Griffith, Executive Director of NADP.

“The governor could not convince the Legislature to keep a failed system, so he used his own money to pay for the referendum,” said Matt Maly, state coordinator of Nebraska Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. “Our compassionate, grassroots campaign will take the same information to the voters that we shared with State Senators; showing the death penalty’s many failures and how it violates basic conservative principles.”

During the next 14 months NADP will continue doing what it has done for three decades; having conversations with Nebraskans about why capital punishment has failed our state.

It won’t be official until the Secretary of State’s office confirms the signatures over the next 40 days, but it seems death penalty repeal will be on the November 2016 ballot. We are confident the more people learn about the death penalty the less likely they are to support it.  Please stick with us through 2016 as we continue to spread the word about the realities of the death penalty.

A statement from NADP:

Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NADP) is closely monitoring the initial results of the death penalty referendum signature gathering campaign, and will await the official decision from the Secretary of State’s office. However, today proponents of the death penalty are claiming to have enough signatures to suspend the legislature’s bi-partisan repeal of capital punishment in advance of the 2016 general election.

“In spite of apparently qualifying, the number of signatures appears to be underwhelming given the expectations created by those who would like to keep this broken and wasteful system that we can’t use and don’t need,” said Rev. Stephen Griffith, incoming Executive Director of NADP. “Just like the legislators they elected, we believe the more Nebraskans learn about the failures of capital punishment, the more they will be inclined to get rid of it.”

Although the death penalty referendum appears to have obtained signatures from 10-percent of registered voters, it failed to attract broad-based financial support, with governor Ricketts, his father, and a handful of their associates providing the bulk of funds.

“It is evident that grassroots Nebraskans have already rejected the death penalty with their pocketbooks,” Griffith said.

During the next 14 months NADP and their project, Nebraska Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCATDP), will continue doing what it has done for three decades; having conversations with Nebraskans across the political spectrum about why capital punishment has failed our state.

Matt Maly, Coordinator for Nebraska CCATDP said, “As Nebraskans keep learning about the risk of executing innocents, the prolonged anguish for victims’ families, and the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars, we’re confident they’ll keep turning against the death penalty.”

The undeniable and unfixable problems with capital punishment caused the Nebraska Legislature to vote overwhelmingly three times to repeal the death penalty and then override the governor’s veto.

Maly said, “Once our state’s Second House learns all of the facts, we are confident they too will reject our broken death penalty.”



NADP Executive Director Stephen GriffithThe Board of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has announced that Rev. Stephen Griffith will become Executive Director of the organization. Rev. Griffith, a life-long Nebraskan, has served United Methodist congregations in Hardy, Bertrand, Loomis, Lexington, Osceola, Omaha, and Lincoln. His ministerial career concluded in June after 13 years serving Saint Paul United Methodist in downtown Lincoln.

“The voices of faith leaders have been important as Nebraskans realize that the death penalty is a broken system that fails to provide justice,” said Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Board President Laurel Johnson. “Since 1981, it has been NADP’s mission to have a conversation with all Nebraskans about this failed experiment. We are thrilled that Rev. Griffith will be talking to Nebraskans about why alternatives to the death penalty makes the most sense for taxpayers and for public safety as well as the broad support of death penalty alternatives from faith leaders.”

“It was 32 years ago that I first spoke publicly about the sacredness of all life and the ineffectiveness of the death penalty,” said Rev. Griffith. “I may have retired from the pulpit but my lifelong work is to carry a message of compassion and hope. While my support of death penalty alternatives comes from my faith and belief that God can work in the life of every person, I’m excited to join with other Nebraskans who oppose the death penalty for many reasons: faith, the waste of taxpayer dollars and the harm it does to victims’ families. In many roles I’ve brought together and leaders from business, health care, education, human service organizations, neighborhoods, state, city and county government. I believe most Nebraskans already understand that Nebraska’s death penalty is unworkable. I’m excited to continue the conversation about smart alternatives that NADP has been having for over three decades.”