The Nebraska Legislature approved lethal injection as the state’s sole method of execution in May 2009, after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment.
Nebraska is now in line with more than 30 other states that use a similar three-drug cocktail – an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer, and a substance to stop the heart.
Over the last few months $35,000 in renovations have been made to the execution chamber, including expanding the public viewing area to 18-by-15 feet to accommodate 13 people. The room has a floor-to-ceiling divider wall for members of the inmate and victim’s families.
The area also has a preparation room and windowless holding room.
The new execution chamber incorporates practices from several states including Texas, Indiana and Missouri that have used lethal injection to carry out the death penalty. But because of legal challenges, it could take years before an execution is carried out.
Only Bob Houston, director of corrections, and Dennis Bakewell, warden at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, will be in the execution chamber with the prisoner at the time the lethal injection is administered.
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