New program to deal with prison overcrowding introduced - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

New program to deal with prison overcrowding

New program to deal with prison overcrowding introduced

By: Lauren Fabrizi

Officials from all three branches of Nebraska government announced a new program to address overcrowding in state prisons Wednesday morning.

The "Justice Reinvestment Initiative" was discussed by Gov. Dave Heineman, Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams and Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican. It was put into law under LB 907 in this year's legislative session.

The first meeting was held at the Lincoln Country Club.

"The process of the Justice Reinvestment is reducing spending of corrections, reinvesting a portion of those savings in strategies to increase public safety," program director Marc Pelka said.

Those working together will represent all three branches of government: the governor, the county attorney, state senators, law enforcement officials and others.

They'll be conducting a study that will analyze a number of things, including the state's trends in crime, arrest, sentencing and probation.

One of their biggest priorities is to figure out how to cut down the number of people who get behind bars again after serving time.

"Fewer people to go on probation, fewer people being placed into programs failing, fewer people going to prison and coming back on release," Pelka said.

As Pelka mentioned at the beginning of the meeting, the goal is to come up with a number of policies that would reduce spending on corrections and increase public safety throughout the state. Those policies will be brought to the table in the 2015 legislative session.

"I'm pleased that we're beginning this work and hopeful we could develop cost effective policies," Gov. Heineman said.

The group will meet a couple times a month before the 2015 legislative session begins.
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