Nebraska’s prison population increased by 34 percent between 1995 and 2005, and its corrections budget nearly tripled.[i] In 2006 and 2007, Nebraska began addressing this by enhancing the availability of less costly, community-based options for nonviolent offenders. Policymakers created the Community Corrections Council that launched new day and night reporting centers established by the state’s Community Corrections Council. Governor Dave Heineman, a Republican, praised these centers and emphasized the state’s commitment to community corrections, which he said “can help provide better results than simply building more maximum-security prisons in our state.”[ii]
While this initiative resulted in fewer nonviolent, low-risk offenders, particularly drug possession offenders, entering Nebraska prisons, the state continues to face prison overcrowding. There are nine lockups that are currently over 140 percent of capacity, which triggers automatic notification to the governor.[iii] Faced with the overflowing prisons and a tight budget, corrections officials are looking at various policy options that would address budgetary and capacity pressures while improving public safety.
[i] Nebraska Profile, Pew Center on the States, http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Nebraska.pdf.
[iii] JoAnne Young, “Prisons look to parole 260 to ease crowding,” Lincoln Journal-Star, 6 Nov. 2010, http://journalstar.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_da5871dc-ea0d-11df-9b8e-001cc4c03286.html.
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