Interested in Nebraska Prison Reform? Read this Post!

Photo of the Nebraska Criminal Justice Reinvestment Working Group Report Cover Page

Here are the 21 recommendations from the final report of the Nebraska Criminal Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which was done with the assistance of the Crime and Justice Institute. #NELeg Judiciary Committee chair, Senator Steve Lathrop of Omaha, introduced LB920, which includes the items in the report. 

Read the bill at https://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=47530

Report recommendations include:

Focus corrections resources on violent and high-risk individuals:

Option 1: Establish a streamlined parole process for certain eligible individuals. Consensus option. (page 24)

Option 2: Increase investment in assistant probation officer positions, who can provide direct support to probation officers supervising high risk caseloads. Consensus option. (page 25)

Option 3: Establish supportive housing programs for individuals on supervision in the community. Consensus option. (page 26)

Address regional inconsistency in outcomes across the state:

Option 4: Create statewide standards for the use of early probation discharge. Consensus option. (page 27)

Option 5: Narrow broad sentencing ranges by tailoring punishments to specific levels of seriousness. Consensus reached on burglary and low-level theft charges, but not on drug possession. (page 28)

Option 6: Reduce “jamming out” releases. Consensus option. (page 29)

Option 7: Increase education for stakeholders about young adults involved in the criminal justice system. Consensus option. (page 29)

Option 8: Expand problem-solving courts. Consensus option. (page 29)

Minimize barriers to successful re-entry:

Option 9: Improve reentry practices for those being released from prison. Consensus option. (page 30)

Option 10: Remove the barrier of criminal conviction for individuals who are successful on supervision. Consensus option. (page 31)

Option 11: Invest in tangible incentives to motivate compliance while on community supervision. Consensus option. (page 31)

Option 12: Prioritize restitution to victims of crime. Consensus option. (page 32)

Improve statewide behavioral health supports:

Option 13: Increase state incentives for students in Nebraska pursuing careers in behavioral health to provide care in designated shortage areas across the state. Consensus option. (page 32)

Option 14: Utilize county and district courts as physical access centers for virtual behavioral health treatment for individuals on community supervision. Consensus option. (page 33)

Option 15: Expand the use of sentencing alternatives. Consensus option. (page 34)

Option 16: Create statewide standards for diversion programs and reinvest funding into judicial districts to administer such programs. Consensus option. (page 34)

Ensure the sustainability of the reforms:

Option 17: Appoint the working group to reconvene to review the implementation and fidelity of the reforms resulting from this effort. Consensus option. (page 35)

The options that did not receive consensus from the working group are noted below:

Option 18: Create a geriatric parole mechanism.

Option 19: Modify drug possession penalty.

Option 20: Discourage the use of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent felonies and allow credit to be earned during a mandatory term toward the non-mandatory portion of the sentence.

Option 21: Ensure consecutive sentences are used consistently and appropriately across the state.

Read the full report at https://lwvnebraska.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NECJR-WG-Final-Report.pdf

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