Committee Investigates Miscalculation Of Inmate Release Dates

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A special legislative committee is investigating why the Nebraska Department of Corrections failed to follow two Supreme Court Decisions that showed hundreds of inmates were being released early.

One of those inmates, Nikko Jenkins, went on a murderous spree last year killing four people shortly after being released from prison.

Despite the investigation, former Corrections Department Director Bob Houston told the committee the prison system in Nebraska is "safe" and among the best in the country.

Houston appeared before the committee Friday.

More than 300 prisoners were released early after is was discovered the department miscalculated their release date in accordance with Nebraska's "Good Time" law.

Houston told the committee he was not the director in 2002 when the first decision was handed down and was never told about a second decision in 2013.

Concerning Jenkins, Houston said Jenkins was not on his "radar" until after the inmate assaulted a corrections officer while attending his grandmother's funeral in 2009.

Houston also said he never looked at any records concerning Jenkins' mental health condition prior to his release from prison last July.

Jenkins pleaded with prison officials not to release him last year saying he planned to kill and eat people after his release. Houston said Jenkins was in solitary confinement up to his release date and then cut loose with no mental health programs in place.

When Committee Chairman Steve Lathrop asked Houston if inmates were to be moved out of prisons faster due to extreme overcrowding, Houston said "yes."

Houston resigned as corrections director last September saying he had become a "controversial figure."

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