State Senators React to Good Time Rule Changes

Lincoln, Neb.-- Beginning Saturday, Dec. 21, prison inmates could lose up to two years worth of good time credit for breaking rules, including assaults on prison guards and other prisoners.

That's after Gov. Dave Heineman approved doubling the amount of good time credit that can be lost on Monday.

Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy said he'll introduce a bill to the legislature in January that would change the current law itself. Instead of inmates earning good time credit from the beginning of their sentence, they would instead essentially start with a clean slate.

McCoy said Heineman has done everything a governor can.

"Certainly this is the piece that the executive branch can take action on today," McCoy said, "to help us securing the safety of Nebraskans by essentially doubling the penalties of those with bad behavior."

But another senator from Omaha, Brad Ashford, said changing good time laws makes for good headlines. But, doesn't target the real problem.

Ashford said the focus this legislative session needs to be the prison reform bill, a bill that would address the state's prison overcapacity issue.

Nebraska currently sits at about 150 percent prison capacity.

"Let's save as much money as we can," Ashford said, "by keeping the prison population under control and reinvest those dollars in programming to get those offenders better able to move on into society."

But, McCoy said the proposed good time law changes focus more on violent offenders that need to be behind bars. He said the prison reform bill, like Ashford is proposing, focuses more on non-violent inmates.

"I believe with violent offenders," McCoy said, "that they shouldn't be able to get good time or early release automatically.

"They should earn it."

Ashford said 45 percent of current inmates are getting out of prison without supervision, an issue he said the upcoming prison reform will address.

Ashford also said Nebraska had a good time law years ago similar to the one McCoy is proposing. Ashford said, back then, the law unfairly applied to inmates.

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