ACLU of Nebraska

LINCOLN - The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska say prison reform is needed now more than ever after a press conference last week held by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Director Scott Frakes announced he would certify Nebraska’s prison population at more than 140 percent on July 1, a requirement of state law that will officially recognize an overcrowding emergency.

Communications Director Sam Petto tells News Talk WJAG the talk of building a new prison facility to address the overcrowding is not the answer.

"If you'll look at historical trends across the last 40 years, Nebraska has not been able to build its way out of capacity problems. And so we think there's a lot smarter solution than spending that kind of money to lock up more Nebraskans. Back in 2017, they predicted that in just three years, they were going to be at 132% of design capacity - so far below the about 150% that it is today."

Petto says they’re advocating for smart justice reform, including sentencing reform, front-end diversion programs, increased prison programming and reentry support.

He adds if each reform was adopted, 3,000 fewer people would be in the state’s prisons and Nebraska taxpayers would save an estimated $139 million annually.

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