The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment, 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.
“Contrary to the State’s argument, there is abundant evidence that prisoners sometimes will retain enough brain functioning to consciously suffer the torture high voltage electric current inflicts on a human body,” Connolly wrote.