Over the summer, communities across the country took to the streets to demand justice for the police killing of George Floyd. In Nevada, months of large-scale protests showed the urgent need for transparency and accountability in a criminal legal system that treats Black and Brown bodies as dispensable.
In response, Democratic lawmakers acknowledged system inequities, including problems with policing, declared racism a public health issue, and expressed support for substantive change. Nevada took some baby steps forward during a special session last year: The Legislature approved Assembly Bill 3, which banned police officers’ use of chokeholds and established a duty to intervene.
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the bill into law and released a statement in support, saying, “My administration will continue to pursue change, we will not go back to the status quo and we will continue to actively listen to those whose voices have been drowned out or forgotten in the past.”
But advocates, activists, and community members stood firm that minimal advances were insufficient to address the breadth and depth of systemic racism and police violence. AB3 lacked meaningful accountability measures, and there’s a wealth of other issues that need to be addressed.
Our coalition made this clear to legislative leadership last week — check out the letter from the Justice Reform and Accountability Alliance below.
The ACLU of Nevada and the JRAA are pursuing numerous policy reforms to tackle systemic issues during the 2021 session.
THE ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Ending capital punishment has always been a major goal for the ACLU of Nevada. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. Here in Nevada, no drug company will provide the necessary drugs to perform executions and yet death penalty cases are still be tried, costing the taxpayers millions.
We have a tough fight ahead of us, but this may be our last viable opportunity for a long time to push for repeal.
THE END OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
Qualified immunity for police officers is one of the biggest barriers to meaningful accountability. We need to make it clear that civil rights violations will not be swept away by procedural roadblocks, and we need more stringent use-of-force standards requiring that the use of any level of force must be both reasonable and necessary.
POLICE TRANSPARENCY AND DATA
Transparency is the floor when it comes to police accountability. Nevada needs to collect, analyze, and publish data regarding complaints of officer misconduct and any discipline imposed pursuant to such complaints, as well as data regarding all vehicular and pedestrian stops and post-stop policing broken down by location as well as race, sex, age, and other relevant demographics.
Police investigating police for excessive force is an ineffective process that hurts our communities’ trust. The establishment of a Special Prosecutor or a panel of independent prosecutors to investigate — and prosecute when necessary — cases involving officer-involved homicides or use of force that results in serious bodily harm.