Crowded Nebraska prisons and a shortage of corrections officers and mental health workers have created a humanitarian crisis, charges the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, reports the Lincoln Journal Star. In a lawsuit, the group cites prisoners sleeping in hallways or double-bunked in cells the size of a parking space and deprived of needed health care or of basic accommodations for deafness or blindness or other disabilities. It says inmates are suffering and dying from treatable medical conditions, and injuries and deaths in violence that erupts within the prisons.
The organization worked with local and national attorneys in preparing the lawsuit. The ACLU’s Danielle Conrad said, “We view it … as laying down a marker in Nebraska state history, saying: ‘No more. This is where the trajectory changes and we come together and take a fresh look at policy reform.’ ” Remedies could include a prisoner release order to bring down crowding that has hovered around 160 percent of prison capacity for at least two years.