Public speaks out about prisons - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Public speaks out about prisons

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By: Hannah Paczkowski

It only took ten minutes for the public to voice their opinions on Nebraska's prisons. The only one to speak out was Sue Jacob, a mother of two inmates.

"Eventually, Nebraska will spend more on prisons than on universities," she said.

The Department of Corrections held a public hearing Thursday to discuss proposed changes to the Good Time Law.

"It would change the maximum amount of Good Time that the department would be able to withhold from an inmate for a rule infraction," Dawn-Renee Smith, legislature and public information coordinator of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, said.

For instance, right now the maximum amount a prisoner can lose for a nonviolent offense, like bribery, would be one and a half months. With the proposed change, that time would be doubled to three months.

This proposal stems from cases where inmates out on Good Time end up committing a crime again. Such as Nikko Jenkins, who despite his violent history behind bars, was released after 10 years for an 18-to-22-year prison sentence.

After he got out, he was accused of committing four murders in Omaha.

Jacob said to keep Good Time the way it is and concentrate on releasing inmates who won't offend again.

"We ought to be talking about the department's mental health diagnosis and treatment procedures. The ugly truth is that the department doesn't have any that solve these mental health problems."

The Department of Correctional Services General is planning to meet with the corrections director to come up with recommendations to bring the Attorney General and Gov. Heineman, but there is no set date for when that will happen.

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