Nebraska Media Coverage

In the Media

Defining Reform in Corrections

While Nebraska has a low violent crime rate, there has been a lot of opportunity to ensure that our prisons and criminal justice system help bring that rate down. Over the past three years, state officials have been working to invest in our criminal justice system. This will help bring down the rate of reoffending and give our corrections officers a better work environment. This work has been a three-branch, bipartisan effort focused on five major areas: sentencing reform, funding operations, building prison capacity, improving facility staffing and expanding programming.

Transforming Nebraska’s Criminal Justice System

Prisons play a key role in Nebraska’s criminal justice system by protecting public safety and preparing inmates for return to our society. Under the leadership of Director Scott Frakes over the past two years, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has been making great strides and working to better achieve their mission. From expanding facility capacity to automating sentence calculation processes and expanding programming, the agency has been adopting data-driven practices to modernize its operations and facilities.

State Prison Reforms Should Get More Time

It has been threatened for years, and it has finally come about. The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Nebraska inmates in U.S. District Court, alleging that overcrowding in the state’s prisons has led to unsafe conditions and that many prisoners aren’t having medical conditions treated.

Ricketts Remains Confident in Frakes and Nebraska’s Prison Reform Plan

In his first in-depth interview since a deadly prison uprising 18 days ago, the governor told The World-Herald that he’s focused on changing prisons from human warehouses to places where offenders obtain the education, job training and behavioral treatment they need to live productively upon their release. Slash re-offense rates, he said, and taxpayers will save money, prisons will be safer and the public will be better protected.

Lawmakers Get Prison Overcrowding Update

Still no arrests have been made and there’s no word on what caused the incident that left fires burning and two inmates dead at the Tecumseh State prison.

Ricketts: Corrections Problems Won’t Be Solved Overnight

A deadly incident at the state’s maximum-security prison in Tecumseh last week has once again put a public focus on the important work of reforming the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS). In my first two years as governor, corrections reform has been a top priority to ensure we are protecting public safety. Working with the Legislature and courts, we have begun to address challenges with our prison population, successfully lobbied for additional investments, improved staffing and recruitment, expanded programming opportunities and assessed security needs.

Attorneys: Judicial Cuts Would Have Local Impact

Area county attorneys say the pinch will be felt locally in probation and juvenile services if lawmakers follow through on Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal to slash $8.2 million from the judicial branch in the state’s next two-year budget.

Judiciary Cuts Waste Funds in Long Run

Let’s hope that state senators were tuned in when Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Mike Heavican spoke to them last week about the judicial branch of state government.

In his State of the Judiciary address in the legislative chambers and at a committee hearing, Heavican said flatly and plainly that budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts threaten prison reform.

Concerns Over Probations Cuts

Nebraska’s top judge used his State of the Judiciary address to issue a strong warning Thursday.

Nebraska Prisons Head Optimistic Despite Persistent Crowding

Nebraska’s corrections director said recently that he is optimistic the state’s prisons will become less crowded even though a series of reforms haven’t yet reduced the inmate population as expected. He said he expects the situation to improve by next year, and expressed confidence that the department can still meet its goal of being just 40 percent over its design capacity by 2020.

Trying Times, Bright Spots at Corrections

It’s hot and it’s crowded. Not a good mix for many places, especially not the Nebraska Department of Corrections, which is about 160 percent over capacity with 5,400 inmates. The number of inmate assaults on guards – and one another – continues to climb. Multiple reports indicate general unrest among the population and threats of physical violence toward staff.

Trying times, bright spots at corrections

A study by the Council of State Governments indicates that Nebraska could reduce recidivism by providing more access to programs. A report from the organization’s Justice Center said the state currently misses opportunities to identify risks and needs of inmates and to target program resources accordingly. About a third of inmates with one year of parole eligibility are not getting parole hearings because they have not finished programming, or don’t have access to programs.

Editorial: Programs for Inmates Help Public Safety

The question of how much to spend on programming to keep more inmates from returning to prison presents Nebraska elected officials with a classic dilemma. In the short term it saves money for the state to keep programming expenses low. But in the long-term it will end up costing more money, as well as increasing the risk to public safety.

Editorial: Nebraska’s Prison Programs Need Public Help

Outside experts just handed Nebraska prison officials a blueprint for improving how the state helps inmates become law-abiding citizens. Now it’s time to build. The state’s prisons already offer strong programs to help criminals prepare for life after prison. But the programs fall short because of long waiting lists for classes, counseling and job training. Too few prisoners get help, and a third don’t receive required services by their parole eligibility date, often delaying their release.

Study: Prisons can Improve Programs for Inmates

Nebraska could keep more inmates from returning to prison by providing more access to programs, a study by analysts from the Council of State Governments Justice Center concluded.

Report: Effective Inmate Programs Could Help Overcrowding Issue

For years, Nebraskans have been wondering what the solution may be to the state’s prison overcrowding issue. A new report’s findings suggest the Nebraska Department of Corrections could do a better job at enrolling inmates in rehabilitation programs, making them eligible for parole and more likely not to re-offend.

Nebraska Legislature Will Consider Prison System Issues, Including $26 Million Prison Expansion, When It Gets Back to Work

Overcrowding remains a problem for Nebraska prisons, which now hold about 1,900 more inmates than their design capacity. And sentencing changes enacted by lawmakers in 2015 to relieve overcrowding have been used in only a handful of cases since the new law took effect in September. It’s too early to tell how effective Legislative Bill 605, the “justice reinvestment” bill, will be, said Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, who heads the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Nebraska Legislature Grapples with Prison Reform Bills in Floor Debates

LB 605, introduced by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, advanced. The bill’s stated intent is “to slow Nebraska’s prison population growth, ease prison overcrowding, contain corrections spending, and reinvest a portion of savings in strategies that can reduce recidivism and increase public safety.”

Beginning Prison Reform

Last week, Nebraska’s new corrections department director made a key decision regarding our state’s prison system. Less than two weeks after taking office, Scott Frakes’ message is clear: Nebraska’s corrections department is headed in a new direction.

Editorial, 1/16: Pay Heed to Prison Report

The policy options for reducing prison overcrowding suggested in the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Project are backed by data and grounded in common sense.

Proposal Averts Almost $300 Million in Corrections Spending

A proposal to require supervision for individuals after completing prison sentence, address the needs of crime victims and tackle the revolving door to state prisons was released today by the Justice Reinvestment Working Group.

Fix for Nebraska Prison Overcrowding

A long-awaited consultant’s report says Nebraska needs to expand three prison facilities, adding more than 1,100 beds, to handle chronic overcrowding.

Report Gives Options to Ease Prison Population

Nebraska could significantly reduce prison overcrowding by sentencing more nonviolent felons to probation instead of prison and by finding alternatives to incarceration for inmates serving sentences of less than a year.

Many Reasons Cited for Bulging Nebraska Prisons

Marc Pelka, the program director for the Justice Reinvestment Program, which is a project of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, cited several of the reasons for the prison population increase, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.