A six-month study of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services discloses state prisons have the programs needed, but doesn’t always deliver them to the inmates in most need.
The Justice Center completed the study as part of the two-year commitment by The Council of State Governments to help the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to improve.
The report praises Nebraska for state-of-the-art programs, but says barriers prevent too many inmates from accessing them.
State Corrections Director Scott Frakes vows to remove the obstacles and get case managers to direct inmates to the programs they need.
“Their focus every day should be on getting inmates into programming, identifying needs to address, finding work opportunities, and working with their case load to keep them engaged and keep them moving in the right path,” Frakes says during a news conference at the state Capitol.
The Justice Center recommends Nebraska streamline its assessment of inmates entering the prison system, assign inmates to programs based on their needs, modify programs to allow inmates to take more than one at a time, expand the capacity and increase the frequency programs are offered, and develop a system to evaluate the programs offered.
Programming can range from addressing substance abuse to anger management. They also can help teach inmates job skills.
The goal is to keep prisoners from returning once released.
Justice Center Project Manager Bree Derrick says inmates often cannot qualify for parole, because they haven’t had needed programming.
“So, effectively they’re denied parole, because of programming, either lack of access to programming or they haven’t yet completed it,” Derrick says.
The Council of State Governments has been working with Nebraska through its Justice Reinvestment program, a two-year commitment.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]
AUDIO: Gov. Pete Ricketts hosts news conference on Justice Center study. [14:30]