After spending a collective 70 years in prison, the Beatrice Six were pardoned in 2009; DNA testing proved their innocence. Their convictions were largely based on false confessions: each of the six testified about being forced through rigorous interrogations and threats of the death penalty.
Last Thursday, the federal civil rights trial that sought compensation for the six ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The suit, filed against the cases' original investigators, was focused on determining whether the initial investigation was reckless and whether the investigators manufactured evidence.
The case of the Beatrice Six is a clear example of the dangers posed by the death penalty system, wherein innocent people can be wrongfully convicted - especially in cases like this, where the threat of the death penalty is used to leverage false confessions. We will continue to monitor their suit as it returns to court later this year, and, more importantly, we will continue to share their story with Nebraskans to emphasize how important it is for our state to do away with the death penalty for good.