Committee talks prison reform

By: Hannah Paczkowski

Nebraska prisons are cramped. They're at 151 percent capacity right now, and have doubled over the past 20 years.

“People are getting out and committing significant crimes, the prison population is significantly in crisis and so we need a dramatic reform,” State senator Brad Ashford said.

The Justice Reinforcement Committee, comprised of law enforcement, courts, and corrections system members, met today to discuss a solution.

Their main focus was more funding for transitional and mental health programming.

“The public safety aspect is potentially in crisis because of our lack of resources on the state level that deal with offenders,” Ashford said.

Which means making sure they don't commit a crime again, especially within the first three months after their release. That's when they're most at risk of getting picked back up.

Ashford said an enhanced probation or program might help.

“They have to find a job, they have to pay for services, they have to do these things, and it works,” he said.

 The committee did talk about the possibility of a new prison and reforming the Good Time Law, but right now they're focusing on coming up with a plan, and not making any big decisions yet.

Their next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 25.