How ‘Reinvestment’ Can Save Nebraska’s Prison System


Nebraska's prisons are stuffed with low-level offenders, and the state's parole system provides too little supervision for those released from incarceration, according to a new report by the non-profit Council of State Governments.

The report was presented to the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature as part of the state's Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which is seeking to decrease the size and cost of the state's prison system.

“Even though reported crime and arrests declined between 2004 and 2013, prison admissions increased and are now outpacing releases,” researchers wrote, noting that if the state’s system goes unchanged, its prisons are projected to swell to as much as 170 percent its current capacity by 2020.

The report is part of a nationwide federal effort to encourage states to embrace justice reinvestment, in which states identify the causes of rising prison costs, and push funding toward reducing recidivism and prison size.

“Nebraska's property offense statutes have not kept pace with inflation, causing lower-level property offenses to increasingly result in prison sentences,” researchers wrote.

Reducing the states prison by 10 percent and averting the construction and operations costs of building new facilities for extra inmates could save the state $306 million, according to the report.

Part of the Council on State Government's plan to decrease the number of inmates is implementing a parole system that includes “swift and certain” sanctions for parole violations, and better risk assessment tools.

Read the full report HERE.

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