Nebraska prisons to hit emergency overcrowding levels July 1, corrections officials say

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 9:54 AM CDT
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The state's prison system is approaching a crisis, the head of Nebraska corrections said Thursday morning.

, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, said the state's overcrowded prisons will officially be declared an emergency on July 1 when it fails to meet a deadline set by lawmakers to reduce the prison population.

A Nebraska law written five years ago requires the state to lower the state's inmate population to 140% of design capacity or call an emergency.

"We have been above 140% since 2009," Frakes said. "This morning, we are at 151%."

As a result, the state must speed up parole hearing for its roughly 800 eligible inmates.

"The law requires that the board shall immediately consider — or reconsider — committed offenders who are eligible for parole who are not on parole," said Rosalyn Cotton, Nebraska Board of Parole chairperson.

In order to no longer be considered an emergency, Nebraska's inmate population has to drop to 125% of what prisons were designed to hold.

Officials didn't offer a clear goal for increasing the number of parole hearings.

"We will continue to review the 821 parole eligible inmates in a timely manner," Cotton said.

Frakes said state corrections officials are doing the best they can to provide effective rehabilitation programs, but that more is needed.

"Nebraska needs a new prison," the corrections director said. "That's why I initiated a request for information -- and RFI -- this will help to inform the process of identifying the type of facility that will be needed, where it could be located, the potential cost and funding options."

LIVE: Nebraska Corrections update

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is providing an update Thursday morning on its progress in preparing inmates for parole and share future plans for the department. Director Scott Frakes and Nebraska Board of Parole chairperson Rosalyn Cotton will give details from both agencies at a 10 a.m. news conference at the NDCS Central Office in Lincoln.

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Thursday, June 25, 2020

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