LINCOLN, Neb — On April 10, the ACLU of Nebraska sent a letter to Governor Pete Ricketts demanding that immediate changes be made to the prison system. News reports since April 10 indicate one individual in state custody died sparking a criminal investigation and separately three staff were assaulted. Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Corrections Director Scott Frakes held a press conference today responding to ACLU concerns.
ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad released the following statement:
“Just this week we witnessed more tragic news about more violence resulting in yet another death in our prisons. There are a host of smart evidence based reforms the governor could initiate now under his existing executive authority such as declaring an emergency. There are pending policy reforms in the legislature that Governor Ricketts and the Department could support from sentencing reform to reentry support. These bills are strongly supported by conservative leaders because they ensure public safety and help ease the burden on taxpayers.
“Our legal team is working hard to finalize this complex and critical litigation. We will not share any additional details about our legal strategy or timeline at this juncture. Our next announcement about this case will be when we file suit. In the absence of state leadership our work is more important than ever.
“Extreme overcrowding of prisons, such as Nebraska is now experiencing, causes violence that harms those in state custody as well as correctional officers and staff. This is an emergency that requires the Governor and the Legislature to act. Lives are at stake.
“We respect Director Frakes and are grateful to the hardworking men and women on the front lines of our correctional system for their service. But as the Director said, these problems have been years in the making and we cannot continue to pass the problems down the road and hope for a future solution.”