Nebraska

Nebraska’s prisons are overcrowded—state corrections officials report that these facilities are at one-and-a-half times their capacity. Even though reported crime and arrests declined from 2004 to 2013, prison admissions increased and are now outpacing releases. If this growth continues unchecked, prisons will become even more crowded, swelling from 159 percent of capacity (5,221 people) at the close of 2014 to a projected 170 percent of capacity (5,581 people) by FY2020.

In 2014, the CSG Justice Center was asked to analyze Nebraska’s criminal justice data, interview stakeholders from across the criminal justice system, and work with Nebraska state leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to slow prison population growth, reduce spending on corrections and increase public safety. Among other things, Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment Policy Framework would:

  • Hold people convicted of the lowest-level felonies accountable with supervision and treatment;
  • Reduce the number of people released from prison without supervision and support victims through improved restitution collection; and
  • Strengthen parole supervision to reduce recidivism.

By averting the projected growth in the state prison population, effective implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Policy Framework will help the state avoid up to $306.4 million in construction and operation costs that would otherwise be needed to accommodate the forecasted growth by FY2020. To achieve these outcomes, the state would need to reinvest $33 million by FY2020 in expanding the probation officer workforce, increasing community-based programs and treatment, strengthening parole supervision, and carrying out policies that ensure the sustainability of the Justice Reinvestment Policy Framework. As a result of improvements to the criminal justice system, the policy framework estimates a reduction in recidivism and establishes a goal of reducing the number of people released from prison without supervision by 70 percent. The Justice Reinvestment Policy Framework will be considered by the legislature during the 2015 session.

Publications

NE WG 4

Fourth Presentation to Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Work Group

Presentation of Nebraska’s criminal justice system challenges, justice reinvestment policy framework, and impact estimates to the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group on December 11, 2014. This presentation includes proposed strategies that aims to reduce recidivism, lower corrections costs, and increase public safety […]

NE WG 3

Third Presentation to Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group

This presentation looks at the state’s ability to manage people convicted of low-level offenses to drive down recidivism, how the state structures prison sentences to include a period of post-release supervision, and how to enhance post-release supervision to ensure parolees are held accountable.