Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gov. Ricketts: Why no three-strikes-and-you're-out rule for police/prosecutor death penalty abuse?

Gov. Pete Ricketts, who says
the Unicameral isn't connecting
with average voters in Nebraska
Gov. Ricketts is busy blasting social media and putting the screws to disobedient Repubs over their legislative disgust over the implementation of the death penalty in Nebraska, expressed by last week's vote to kill the death penalty.
     We find that to be the the clearest groupthink we've seen within the Nebraska GOP in years. Too bad ideology- and talking point-driven Ricketts has not similarly evolved; he maintains (contrary to various studies) that the death penalty is "an important tool for public safety and public policy.”
     Oh sure. We're to believe that's what criminals think about, not the fact that overall, 35-40% of homicides in the U.S. go unsolved, leaving the perps Scot free and that the majority of homicides at dozens of big-city police departments are now going unsolved, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of crime records provided by the FBI (2013).
     Our contempt for Ricketts' dishonest pandering grows by the day. If he (and the OPD, which supports the death penalty) were serious about striking fear into the hearts of murderous thugs, they could try solving more homicide cases, instead of trying to excite the most ignorant of the rabble with cheap, disproven rhetoric.
     Yesterday, Rickett's allies in the Hall County Board even scheduled an "emergency" meeting to spank express their concerns to State Senator Mike Gloor, but cancelled the meeting after the ACLU said it was a violation of Nebraska's Open Meeting Act. Gloor supports the death penalty but has decided that its implementation in the state has become hopelessly dysfunctional.

     The most compelling argument against the death penalty in this state is that since 1985, there have been repeated scandals in Nebraska involving crime lab chicanery and wrongful homicide prosecutions.
  • The so-called "Beatrice Six" — Thomas Winslow, Joseph White, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, James Dean and Debra Shelden were pardoned in 2008 after DNA evidence from the crime scene of the 1985 murder of Helen Wilson identified Bruce Allen Smith, who died in 1992.  Fortunately, none of them were offed by the state.
  • In 2008, the Cass County Sheriff's Department and the Nebraska State Patrol extracted a coerced and false confession from Matt Livers (implicating himself and another innocent man, Nick Sampson) in the murder of Wayne and Sharmon Stock, who were actually killed by a pair of teenagers from Wisconsin.
  • Douglas County Sheriff's Office crime scene investigator David Kofoed went to jail for felony evidence tampering in 2010 and is strongly suspected of tampering with evidence in at least two other homicide investigations.
     Anyone who repeatedly engages in reckless driving justifiably faces revocation of their operator's license. In our opinion Nebraska pointed out on its license to kill years ago.

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