LINCOLN, Neb. -- After briefly repealing its death penalty only to have it reinstated by voters, Nebraska has resumed the search for drugs needed to carry out executions for the first time in 20 years. That comes as judges consider whether to increase death row population by two - Nikko Jenkins and Anthony Garica - who each killed four people in Omaha.
Nebraska is among the few states where those facing capital punishment have a remarkably good shot at dying of natural causes. Since 2001, four death row inmates have died of natural causes while awaiting execution.
Of the 10 people currently on Nebraska's death row, Carey Dean Moore has waited 37 years for his murder convictions in the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.
As the search begins for lethal injection drugs officials are backing a proposal that would allow them to conceal a supplier's identity.
Corrections Director Scott Frakes said he has had conversations with potential suppliers but has not yet made any purchases. His comments came outside a hearing on a proposed shield law that would keep suppliers' identities secret.
"I've just begun the process to see if I can obtain the substances needed to carry out the sentences," Frakes said after testifying in support of the bill.
Governor Pete Ricketts approved a new lethal injection protocol last month that gives the Department of Correctional Services greater flexibility to choose which drugs are used in executions. An early draft of the protocol included a secrecy provision, but Frakes said department officials removed it after deciding they first needed legislative approval.
Nebraska's last execution took place in 1997, using the electric chair. The state switched to lethal injection after the Nebraska Supreme Court declared the electric chair unconstitutional but officials have never used the current three-drug protocol in an execution.