Sentencing reform is a viable option to solving prison overcrowding

Several measures aimed at reducing prison overcrowding through sentencing reform have gained an interesting proponent during debate in the Nebraska Legislature.

Appropriations Committee Chairman John Stinner of Gering has spoken in support of Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brook’s proposal (LB131) that would require a minimum sentence be no more than half the years as the maximum for certain class felonies. The change would have the practical effect of allowing offenders to become parole-eligible sooner and alleviate the overcrowding crisis.

Stinner told his colleagues that it would cost the state $400 million to $500 million just to build more prison space, not counting operating costs. He said he thinks the state has a lot of other priorities than to build prisons.

Pansing Brooks and Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha said the several sentencing reform measures could be as consequential as any property tax or business incentives bills because of the money involved.


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