Criminal Justice


ACLU: Nebraska Made History

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Joins Growing Number of States Replacing Death Penalty with Smart Alternatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2015

CONTACT: Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

LINCOLN, Neb ­– Today, a supermajority of Nebraska legislators voted to override Governor Pete Rickett’s veto of LB 268, a bill that replaces the death penalty with a life sentence that has no possibility of parole.

Statement from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director

Today marks a remarkable and historic victory for our state. We are grateful for the dynamic leadership of policymakers, and we are proud to be part of an incredibly diverse coalition led by faith leaders, fiscal conservatives, and victim’s families. This is a meaningful victory for all Nebraskans. The Nebraska Legislature, with the world watching, made their voice a part of the national conversation. We are a nation that is turning away from the death penalty. This victory stands as a testament to what can happen in our sister states. Our work helped to identify what we were hearing and seeing on the ground and across the nation a majority of voters favor smart alternatives like life in prison that put public safety first.

Around the country, the number of executions per year and the number of states that carry out executions continue to decline. The state of Nebraska has been unable to carry out an execution for 15 years. Efforts to obtain drugs for lethal injection have failed time and time again. The Governor’s most recent desperate attempt to secure lethal injection drugs raises the same legal and procedural red flags. Thankfully, Nebraska can now implement this law and devote more resources to solving crimes, supporting victims’ families, and bringing sensible reforms to our crisis-riddled prison system.

 

ACLU: FOIA Reveals Governor Ricketts attempts to purchase death penalty drugs means more litigation for Nebraska taxpayers

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2015

CONTACT: Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ACLU: FOIA Reveals Governor Ricketts attempts to purchase death penalty drugs means more litigation for Nebraska taxpayers

Lincoln, Neb – On Friday May 15, 2015 the ACLU of Nebraska filed an open records request to determine if Nebraska’s recent announcement concerning the attempted acquisition of drugs to be used in lethal injection was lawful. The ACLU of Nebraska received a response from the Nebraska Department of Corrections on May 21, 2015.

To read the ACLU request: http://aclunebraska.org/images/attachments/235_Lethal%20injection%20open%20records%20request.pdf

To read the full response from the Nebraska Department of Corrections: http://aclunebraska.org/images/attachments/237_Lethal%20Injection%20FOIA%20Results.pdf

Statement from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director

“The ACLU of Nebraska is committed to holding state officials accountable. Nebraska’s past attempts to obtain lethal injection drugs have been legally suspect and full of problems including wasted taxpayer dollars and false promises. Their most recent effort is nothing more than déjà vu all over again. Nebraska policymakers and Nebraska voters deserve straight talk from our elected leaders. The Governor and the Attorney General are entitled to their own opinion but they can't rewrite the facts. Their most recent announcement that they have somehow ‘fixed’ our broken death penalty system is simply inaccurate. After reading the results of our most recent FOIA there are more questions today than there are answers available. The results call into question the Governor’s claim that resolving this was simply a 'management issue he promised to resolve'. The FOIA shows a shady foreign source approached the Department of Corrections and engineered a hasty deal with no assurances from state officials as to fair price, ability to comply with the importation laws, or the efficacy of the drugs in question. This marks another sad chapter in the dark history of Nebraska’s death penalty story. The only thing we know with any certainty is this will result in another round of costly and lengthy legal appeals with the taxpayer picking up the tab.”

For brief background information on Nebraska's history with lethal injection and to learn more about a recently compiled report based off information from the Nebraska commission on Public Advocacy: http://aclunebraska.org/images/attachments/237_2015-5-22%20NE%20execution%20drug%20purchase%20history%20FINAL.pdf

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ABOUT: ACLU of Nebraska and its diverse membership works in courts, the legislature and our communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States and Nebraska guarantee everyone in this state.

 

ACLU warns Halls County: emergency meeting violates Nebraska’s open meetings law

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2015

CONTACT: Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Lincoln, Neb – On Friday the ACLU of Nebraska sent a letter to the Hall County Board of Supervisors warning them that an “emergency meeting” called for today violates the Nebraska Open Meetings Act. The ACLU sent the letter in response to citizen complaints received by the ACLU indicating that the short notice for the meeting would not allow appropriate time for public comment.

Statement from Danielle Conrad, Executive Director

The ACLU of Nebraska is committed to ensuring government, including county governments, are accountable and transparent to its citizens. Our office has received numerous citizen complaints about the highly unusual actions of the Hall County Board of Supervisors in setting a meeting this afternoon to lobby on the death penalty. County officials are welcome to engage in the political process as they see fit, but they are not entitled to break or bend local regulations in how they call public meetings or expend public resources, whether at the behest of the governor or anyone else. Due to the extremely short notice given to the public for this meeting, the Board will be in violation of state law if it conducts business today.

 

 

 

ACLU seeks records over suspect lethal injection drugs

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2015

CONTACT: Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Lincoln, Neb – On Friday the ACLU of Nebraska filed an open records request to determine if Nebraska’s recent acquisition of drugs to be used in lethal injection was lawful. A 2013 Federal Circuit Court ruling determined that these drugs are subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight and importation rules and that states must obtain such drugs legally through licensed, inspected dealers.

Courts have found that drugs imported by states for use as anesthesia prior to execution are subject to the same FDA requirements applicable to all imported drugs: most important, the drugs must be reviewed for safety and effectiveness and must come from FDA-registered foreign drug providers.

“Nebraska’s past attempts to obtain lethal injection drugs have been legally suspect and full of problems including wasted taxpayer dollars and false promises. We are committed to holding state officials accountable," said Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the Nebraska ACLU. “Nebraska has not carried out an execution in over 15 years. Nebraska voters know that alternatives to the death penalty-like life in prison with no parole-will protect public safety and save taxpayer resources. We are hopeful that a strong bipartisan effort in the legislature led by fiscal conservatives, faith leaders, and victims’ families will end the death penalty once and for all.”

Nebraska has previously obtained sodium thiopental. In 2009, then Attorney General John Bruning said that it would be about one year until the drugs could be used to carry out an execution. Additional drugs were acquired in 2013, prompting the ACLU of Nebraska to ask for records related to the drugs. Those records showed that Nebraska did not comply with federal law in obtaining the drugs. All of those drugs have since expired.

The current request asks for a variety of information related to the use of drugs involved in Nebraska’s lethal injection protocol, specifically requesting correspondence with the FDA and Harris Pharma. Harris Pharma has previously sold drugs to Nebraska that were unable to be used.

The state has until May 21 to respond to the request for records.

 

ACLU statement on Nebraska prison riots

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2015

CONTACT: Tyler Richard, (402) 476-8091 x104, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Lincoln, Neb - ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad released the following statement in response to riots at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and Nebraska State Penitentiary lock down over the weekend.

“Our first thoughts are to the safety of front line prison staff and those in state custody. We also extend our sympathies to those injured and deceased as a result of these tragic and developing stories. These riots are a painful reminder that Nebraska’s prison system is a system in crisis. Our research has clearly documented horrific conditions of confinement rampant throughout our overcrowded prison system that threatens public safety now and into the future. The ACLU has heard concerns from front line staff about these conditions. The ACLU has documented case files of hundreds of inmates who have been denied health care, access to rehabilitation programs, or who have been assaulted, or put into solitary confinement.

For years, Nebraska corrections officials and policy makers have been aware of the inhumane conditions under which thousands of inmates have been living but have failed to invest resources to remedy the situation or enact meaningful criminal justice reforms. A culture of deliberate indifference has flourished. The riots this weekend are an unfortunate but expected result of a system in crisis.

We renew our call to the Nebraska legislature to pass meaningful reforms that are pending this session to slowly remedy the longstanding crisis in Nebraska’s prison system. The time for reform is now. Nebraskans must come together to find solutions to make smart reforms and investments in our criminal justice system to enhance safe working conditions for our public servants, safe living conditions for those in custody, and the public safety of all Nebraskans.”

Read more about the ACLU’s work to reform Nebraska’s prisons:

 
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