Governor Ricketts Announces New Study on Corrections Reform

Feb. 19, 2021, 1:57 p.m. ·

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Governor Pete Ricketts announced Friday Nebraska will embark on a comprehensive study, pending funding, to improve the state’s criminal justice system. The Boston-based Crime and Justice Institute will lead the corrections reform effort similar to one the state undertook in 2015 that led to post-release supervision reforms.

"This is going to be a date-driven effort. That’s the whole key behind all of this, it to look at that data we have and be able to make decisions based on that data on what we can do to reduce recidivism rates,” Ricketts said. “If we can reduce recidivism rates, that will reduce the number of people coming into our corrections system and that will also be able to help us in regard to our population.”

The study will examine sentencing, release and supervision within Nebraska’s corrections system and will include all three branches of state government. State leaders say the study is part of a long-term approach.

“This process that we’re going to undertake isn’t about how do we get through the next two years or the next three years, but how do we address the problem of overcrowding and capacity over the long haul?” said Senator Steve Lathrop, chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “I think this process has an opportunity to inform what we need by way of facilities and what we need by way of other legislative reforms.”

Both Lathrop and Ricketts agreed the study doesn’t mean the state won’t need a new correctional facility soon to replace the aging Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. The state will apply for a grant with the Department of Justice to help pay for the study.