COVID-19 Assistance for the Justice Community

Illustration of people wearing protective masksThe ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires policymakers and criminal justice practitioners to rapidly adapt their day-to-day operations to the situation at hand. While the pace and scale of the crisis can be overwhelming, the CSG Justice Center is committed more than ever to supporting its members—state and local officials working in all three branches of government in criminal and juvenile justice, behavioral health, housing, and labor.

Nebraska Initiatives

In partnership with Nebraska state leaders, the CSG Justice Center is working on several key criminal justice initiatives to increase public safety, including Stepping Up, Face to Face, and Justice Reinvestment.

Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska

In early 2014, the CSG Justice Center embarked on a Justice Reinvestment approach in Nebraska to help state leaders identify and address the most pressing criminal justice system challenges.

Overview

In 2014, Nebraska’s prisons were operating at 159 percent of capacity and were expected to reach 170 percent of capacity by 2020. While Nebraska’s resident population and prison admissions were growing, total numbers of reported crime and arrests declined from 2004 to 2013. Further, many people left prison without supervision.

From 2014 to 2015, CSG Justice Center experts analyzed data, interviewed stakeholders from across the state’s criminal justice system, and worked with Nebraska leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to reduce prison overcrowding, avert spending on corrections, and increase public safety. As a result of this process, state policymakers enacted justice reinvestment legislation (LB 605) in May 2015. Among other provisions, the law

  • Requires the use of probation rather than incarceration for most people convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses;
  • Ensures post-release supervision for most people upon release from prison
  • Supports victims through improved restitution collection; and
  • Strengthens parole supervision to reduce recidivism.

If successfully implemented, the law will help the state avoid up to $302 million in construction and operating costs that would otherwise be needed to accommodate the forecasted prison population growth by FY2020. To achieve these outcomes, the state reinvested $3.2 million for FY2016 and $12.1 million for FY2017 for additional probation officers, community-based programs and treatment, improvements to parole supervision, quality assurance measures, and financial assistance to county jails. The state expects to see a reduction in recidivism and bring the prison population down to about 139 percent of capacity over the next 5 years.

The CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to Nebraska on the implementation of its justice reinvestment policies. In particular, CSG Justice Center staff conducted an in-depth assessment of the state’s rehabilitative programming in prisons to better understand their effectiveness. In addition, CSG Justice Center staff assisted the state by encouraging the use of swift, certain, and proportionate responses to violations of probation supervision; ensuring the use of swift, certain, and proportionate responses to violations of parole supervision; strengthening and streamlining parole release decision making; improving data collection and cross-reporting across state agencies and stakeholders; and streamlining reentry for people leaving prison through improved interagency collaboration.

  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska Overview (June 18, 2014): This overview highlights recent criminal justice trends in Nebraska that the Justice Reinvestment Working Group will be exploring in coming months as part of the state’s justice reinvestment effort. Trends highlighted in the report include crime and arrests, community supervision populations, and prison admissions and releases.
Presentations
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: First Presentation (June 20, 2014): This presentation introduces the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the justice reinvestment process, provides an overview of criminal justice data trends in Nebraska, and discusses the guiding principles behind “what works” to reduce recidivism. This material was delivered to the Justice Reinvestment Working Group on June 18, 2014.
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Second Presentation (August 26, 2014): Presentation of intermediate analyses, including contributors to Nebraska’s prison crowding, information on felony sentencing distribution, and effective strategies to reduce a person’s risk of reoffending, delivered to the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group on August 26, 2014.
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Third Presentation (October 31, 2014): Presentation of detailed analyses delivered to the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Working Group on October 22, 2014. 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.
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Fourth Presentation (December 11, 2014): 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.
Final Reports
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Analysis and Policy Framework (January 14, 2013): This report summarizes comprehensive analyses of sentencing, corrections, probation, and parole data presented to Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group.
  • Nebraska’s Justice Reinvestment Approach (May 29, 2015): Faced with a prison system at 159 percent of capacity and expected to grow to 170 percent of capacity by FY2020, state leaders in Nebraska pursued justice reinvestment. After extensive analyses identified key challenges in the state’s criminal justice system, policymakers developed a policy framework designed to reduce prison overcrowding and expand the use of probation and parole supervision.
  • Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Justice Program Assessment (June 21, 2016): Nebraska invests millions of dollars annually in rehabilitative programming in prisons. To better understand if these programs are effective, CSG Justice Center staff conducted an in-depth assessment of institutional programs to identify how corrections can modify its investments to maximize recidivism reduction.
Nebraska News

Face to Face: Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts
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