Overcrowding in State Prison forcing officials to make tough decisions

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT)-- A new independent report says the Nebraskan Prison System is overcrowded and understaffed, worse than it has ever been.

As law enforcement and staff try to keep out the contraband from Nebraska Prisons, according to experts, the prison is also reaching a boiling point.

Half of the staff at Tecumseh, where death row is, has less than two years of experience. In 2015, that number was only at 33 percent. Not to mention, the record amounts of overtime in the system.

Inspector General for Corrections Doug Koebernick said, “Our system has more inmates than it ever has. While we’ve added a few beds over the years, we’re still operating at a high level of overcrowding, probably the second or third most overcrowded system in the country.”

Right now the corrections are at 157 percent when 140 percent is its design capacity.

If 140 percent doesn’t happen by July 1st, of next year, the Governor is required to declare an “overcrowding emergency.”

That means more inmates will go through the parole process more quickly, but does that mean they’ll be released?

“I don’t think that will happen. It’s a safety issue that the board of parole doesn’t want to get involved in,” said Koebernick.

When there is an overcrowding emergency issued, the parole board is asked to re-examine inmates who are up for parole. In order to reach design capacity, for example, 603 inmates would have to be released.

Looking at the numbers, there are 893 inmates past their parole eligibility date, so you would think that releasing 603 of them would solve the issue. Not so fast, those inmates already had their dates with the parole board and were ruled still dangerous.