Bill Limits Furloughs For Violent Criminals, Gang Members

By: Brittany Gunter
By: Brittany Gunter

On Tuesday Omaha city leaders announced new legislation that aims to limit furloughs and good time privileges for violent criminals and gang members.

The bill is the final product after an incident back in September 2012 that sparked an outcry for change.

On September 16, 2012 Jermaine Lucas was out of state prison on a 48 hour furlough in Omaha, when he ran into trouble. Police heard gunshots, spotted Lucas, saw him reaching for a gun and officers opened fire. Lucas was killed. “This is one case, but it did shine a light on an issue that we though needed to be corrected,” said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.

The issue, Lucas had a long criminal history and was in the process of serving time for being a felon in possession with a gun. So should he have been allowed out on a furlough? Many city leaders think no. “I have noticed a dangerous pattern for early release and violent offenders that must change,” said Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Now those city leaders have introduced a bill called Truth In Sentencing that will go before lawmakers. “The plan and hope of this legislation is to reduce violence on our streets, so I would think that it would be well received in the legislature,” said State Senator Burke Harr.

The bill’s aim is to cut down on furlough’s for violent offenders and those who are affiliated with a gang. It’s two things the Omaha Police Chief is trying to crack down on. “If you just look at our homicide numbers, three fourths of our homicide numbers were committed with a gun and a little over half of those had some gang ties and gang elements,” said Schmaderer.

Schmaderer believes this bill is one of the tools that will help to make our streets safer. “This legislative piece is just one piece of the puzzle as we try and do a well rounded approach to addressing violent crime.”

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