First-of-its-kind house for parolees set to open in Omaha

Omaha's new PREP House is designed to help the formerly incarcerated get back on their feet.
Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 4:49 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A first-of-its-kind house for parolees in Nebraska is getting ready to open: a PREP house, short for Prison Reset Program.

The house is located near 30th and Cuming Streets and will be staffed around the clock by a parole officer.

Tom Mealey, Parole Program Director for the Nebraska Board of Parole said, “There is no other house like this in the state of Nebraska.”

Mealey says the PREP house gives parolees who are close to going back to jail a chance to start over again.

“Often these clients are probably coming out of inpatient substance abuse or they’re coming out of custodial sanctions,” said Mealey. “They’re running out of chances with parole.”

Mealey says the need is great. Hundreds of parolees end up back in prison every year. The hope is that intensive supervision and a variety of support services offered at the PREP house will keep them out of jail for good.

Mealey said, “We’re bringing programming into our house. We’re going to have relapse prevention and intensive outpatient, cognitive behavioral intervention, and we’re bringing in mental health providers with trauma-informed mental health care,” he said.

The PREP house will include 13 beds, shared living and dining areas, and a basement where clients will receive treatments.

Each client is expected to have a job, do chores, volunteer, and stay clean.

Specialized Parole Officer Hannah Hansen said, “This gives us a chance to be very hands-on, one-on-one, have those check-ins where they have kind of a safety net and seeing us every day and seeing what a good clean house can look like for them.”

The ultimate goal is that the PREP house will benefit the community at large by improving public safety, reducing recidivism, and ultimately saving taxpayers money. Mealey said, “This is going to be a great opportunity to help people re-integrate with the community. Obviously, if our clients can reintegrate with the community and never have contact with the criminal justice system again that’s a huge win for everybody.”

The PREP house is expected to open sometime in July. If it’s successful, other PREP houses could open across Nebraska.