Media Contact

Sam Petto, ACLU of Nebraska Communications Director

July 23, 2020

A photograph of vials contained in requested death penalty drug records.

LINCOLN, Neb. – The ACLU of Nebraska welcomes the release of documents identifying the source of drugs used in a 2018 execution, Nebraska’s first by lethal injection.

The information, which is now publicly available on the ACLU’s website, was released in compliance with a May Nebraska Supreme Court ruling, which found the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) had violated the law by denying public records requests seeking information about lethal injection drugs.

ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said that after years of waiting, the public will finally have access to records they were entitled to from the very beginning.

“Today is another win for open government and the ACLU was proud to be a part of the effort to shine a bright light on the source of the lethal injection drugs utilized by the State of Nebraska as it rushed to carry out an execution shrouded in secrecy from start to finish. The public will now finally have an opportunity to review these critical records after securing this historic win at the Nebraska Supreme Court earlier this summer.  But make no mistake, the public was entitled to these records all along and this case has been litigated since 2017.

Nebraskans care about maintaining our strong tradition of open government. Thus, it remains deeply disturbing that the troubled Nebraska Department of Correctional Services fought tooth and nail to keep public documents from the public. I have no doubt that as we analyze these records more carefully in the coming days and weeks we will all learn more about the crucial context behind the state’s first execution by lethal injection.

State use of the death penalty should be subject to more scrutiny and accountability than any other state function because it is a grave moral action and an irrevocable one. We can never take it back. Until Nebraska turns away once more from the death penalty, Nebraskans will be haunted by troubling questions related to how the state takes people’s lives.”

The ACLU’s records request came two years after the state spent $54,000 dollars of public funds to order drugs that never arrived from an international supplier – a matter that only came to light after open records requests. An ACLU investigation found both the Food & Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency had warned Nebraska against trying to import the drugs. More background on Nebraska’s history with the death penalty and lethal injection is available online.