Nebraska Lawmakers Advance Prison Reform Bill

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Lincoln, Neb. Supporters of proposed changes to Nebraska's prison system argue that providing more services to inmates can help reduce recidivism and lead to a drop in the state's prison population.

Lawmakers Wednesday advanced a bill designed to address overcrowding in the state's prison system.

Nebraska's prisons were at 156 percent of their capacity as of Feb. 28.

The bill would increase funding for vocational training, mental health and substance abuse services.

Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, who sponsored the bill, says it is a start to addressing prison overcrowding without building a new prison.

"As inmate re-enter, hopefully making certain that they can productive members of their communities and that means lowering the risk of re-offending," said Ashford.

Brad Ashford: We will totally reform and revamp our prison system to reduce the prison population and to keep our citizens safer I absolutely guarantee.

Another argument was from senator Bob Krist, his focus was on the juvenile system and says the problem starts at childhood.

"You put money in the playpen, you avoid spending money in the state pen," said Krist.

The bill faces two more votes in front of the Legislature.