LINCOLN, Neb – Today the Nebraska Department of Corrections announced a public hearing related to death penalty protocols. Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nebraska, has this reaction:
“The ACLU of Nebraska stands ready to fight against any effort to cloak Nebraska’s broken death penalty in secrecy. Regardless of how people feel about the death penalty we should all agree that Nebraskans value government transparency and accountability in all matters. In fact inscribed right on our state Capitol is ‘the salvation of the state is the watchfulness of the citizens.’ As citizens, we can't complete that duty if the government only offers us selective information, editing out all the ugly parts.
“Both death penalty supporters and opponents should be able to agree that the most extreme use of state power should absolutely not occur in the shadows. As the Supreme Court has said, ‘The protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.’
“Given the recent history of scandals within the Department of Corrections, this Department should be making extra efforts to be transparent and accountable to the people of Nebraska.
“Any ill-advised effort to limit the rights of citizens, journalists, and criminal defendants to know and understand this process would implicate grave constitutional, legal and policy questions that will come at the expense of the Nebraska taxpayer.”