Six sites in running for new Nebraska Penitentiary

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A recent engineering study details more than $220 million in upgrades are necessary to extend the useful life of the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

The 291-page report was provided to members of the Nebraska State Legislature on January 7th.  The study, funded and approved by state senators in 2021, details deficiencies and costs relative to all buildings and structures located at NSP, as well as infrastructure and site-related systems.

“In order to provide an accurate assessment of cost, estimates were based on what it would take to either repair or replace each item, bringing them up to current, modern-day standards,” explained Scott R. Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS). “Costs were not added for new structures or to increase the size of structures. In this regard, the assessment is very much based on what currently exists on that campus today.”

The engineering study was undertaken as part of nearly $15 million in funding approved by state lawmakers in 2021, which also included developing plans and undergoing site selection for a new 1,512-bed, multi-custody facility to replace the State Penitentiary.

Director Frakes said while the design process is ongoing, contact will be made with property owners to secure options on identified parcels of land. Currently, six sites are being explored. The exact locations are not being disclosed while negotiations with owners are initiated.

“The sites are located within Lancaster, Douglas, and Dodge counties,” said Frakes. “The top criteria in evaluating all available sites has been proximity to a population center to support staffing. The ones selected so far fit that bill.”

According to Director Frakes, the approximate size needed for a new penitentiary would be 160 acres, while they have looked into parcels smaller, the land cannot be smaller than 100 acres.

While work is done to refine the design of the facility itself, representatives with a commercial real estate investment firm will begin exploring option agreements with property owners.   Additional property owners can initiate offers for consideration as well.

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