Judiciary committee looks at prison reform bills

Posted By: Jenn Hatcher

Lawmakers are tackling major problems in the prison system. Friday they reviewed four bills on a variety of issues including overcrowding and mental health issues.

Bills that would put new restrictions on the use of solitary confinement expand mental health care for inmates, create a new position, the Inspector General, who would answer directly to the legislature and changing penalties, punishments and probation rules to cut down on prison sentences.

Senator Health Mello introduced two of the bills, he explains, “As of January 21st 2015, there was 5,228 people incarcerated by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and the prison population had continued to climb over 140 percent of design capacity since March 2011.”

The new head of the DOC, Scott Frakes, gave his opinions on the bills but admitted; it comes with limited knowledge because he’s only been in his role for three weeks. Frakes stated, “I hope to work with this committee next year to acquire what we need.”

The committee will now look over the bills and later vote to send them to the floor.

The four bills in hearing Friday were:

LB598: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=25416

LB592: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=25329

LB605: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=24635

LB606: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=25428