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.
The state's death penalty remains on the books, but the court said the Legislature must approve another method to use it. The evidence shows that electrocution inflicts "intense pain and agonizing suffering," the court said.
"Condemned prisoners must not be tortured to death, regardless of their crimes," Judge William Connolly wrote in the 6-1 opinion.
Gov. Dave Heineman's spokeswoman, Jen Rae Hein, said he is considering introducing a bill this legislative session to replace electrocution with lethal injection. "I am appalled by the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision," Heineman said in a statement.