No, we do not need another prison in Nebraska! We need to end overcrowding.
We need to enforce changes in sentencing and parole passed five years ago. We should repass LB1004, vetoed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. Supported by police and county attorneys, it would have accelerated eligibility for parole. We should shorten sentences for people already incarcerated, including for violent and sexual crimes.
At least 95% of Nebraska’s prisoners will be freed someday, so let’s release people who have “aged out” of crime and truly reformed before they become too institutionalized to find work, housing and pro-social relationships.
Yes — some will reoffend. So will some of those now being released and those who are not yet caught. New offenders will include young people harmed by a parent’s imprisonment.
When we have fewer people incarcerated, we can use the $230 million construction budget to fund more in-prison education and mental health and substance abuse treatment, better wrap-around services for those on parole and probation and healthy neighborhoods that protect kids from prison.
Other Western democracies incarcerate far fewer citizens per capita than we do, yet they have similar or lower crime rates. Even most crime victims, when given a choice, prefer responses that heal offenders and prevent future crime. If prisons worked, we could build a new one. But they don’t.