Governor Dave Heineman has appointed a new director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and reforming the state’s good time policies is likely to be tops on his agenda.
Heineman has named 60-year-old Michael Kenney of Lincoln to replace Bob Houston. Kenney has served as warden of the Omaha Correctional Center since 2010.
Heineman says he will make some changes in the state’s “good time” laws through directions he gives to Kenney, but ultimately the law needs to be changed.
Heineman says he knows changing the “good time” policies would worsen the state’s prison overcrowding, but building a new state prison would cost between $150-and-$200-million. He says he would rather spend that money on education or creating jobs.
The governor says he and his staff are working on ideas to alleviate overcrowding without releasing violent criminals early, and he hopes to have comprehensive legislation to present to the Unicameral in January.
Senator Heath Mello of Omaha has asked Governor Heineman for a long-term comprehensive solution to the overcrowding crisis in the state’s corrections system, and the governor has in turn asked Mello to end his efforts to eliminate the death penalty.
By Susan Risinger, WJAG, Norfolk