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Economist Goss issues invitation to debate costs of death penalty

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Dr. Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton University, is frustrated with death penalty proponents' constant challenge of his study on the cost of capital punishment in Nebraska. 

So on Friday, he issued a challenge of his own. Goss wants Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, who has attacked the study, to appear with him at a public forum to debate it. 

It appears Peterson is turning down the invitation.

Goss sent a letter to Peterson Friday saying there have been repeated misstatements, half truths, and misrepresentations from the Attorney General's office about the cost analysis. It showed Nebraska spends an average of $14.6 million annually to keep the death penalty, beyond what life imprisonment costs the state.

"The economic impact of the death penalty is an important component of the death penalty discussion, and voters deserve to have the real and whole truth," Goss said.

He asked that Peterson and he come together to each present their research on the cost so voters could analyze the data and decide for themselves the economic impact of Nebraska’s death penalty.

Peterson replied in a news release that he is confident in Nebraskans’ ability to determine the facts when they vote on the death penalty in November.

He said he has provided information from actual Nebraska cases and the information is available on the attorney general's website:

Nebraskans will vote on Nov. 8 whether to retain a law (LB268) passed in 2015 that repealed the death penalty, or repeal that law. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.


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