Nebraska AG defends wording on death penalty ballot measure

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska attorney general’s office is defending language approved for a 2016 death penalty ballot measure.

State attorneys argued in a court filing Tuesday that the ballot language is “sufficient, fair and not misleading.” Death penalty opponents have challenged the wording in court, saying it’s slanted in favor of the death penalty.

The ballot language informs voters that retaining the repeal law would eliminate capital punishment and change the “maximum” penalty for first-degree murder to life in prison.

Critics say the word “maximum” is misleading because it incorrectly implies that first-degree murder convicts could face a lesser sentence than life in prison.

Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty in May, but the repeal measure was suspended until voters decide the issue next year.

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