Gov. Dave Heineman says the legislature needs to address Nebraska’s “good time” law that allows prisoners to win early release.
Heineman has called for changes in the “good time” law in wake of Nikko Jenkins’ alleged murder spree after early release. Jenkins got credit toward an early release even though he committed assaults and violated rules while in prison.
Jenkins stands accused of killing four people in Omaha after getting out of prison.
Heineman says he understands a big obstacle stands in the way of change. Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, a master of legislative rules, has threatened to block any changes.
The governor counts on other lawmakers to overcome any efforts by Chambers to keep bills bottled up in committee or subject them to a filibuster if they reach the floor.
“But I don’t think the other members of the legislature are going to sit here and stand up and say, we’re for the current good time law that allows criminals to automatically receive good time instead of earn it,” Heineman tells reporters.
Heineman says his administration will consider rule changes to remove good time credit from inmates who commit assaults, but he adds the administration’s response is limited.
The good time law gives prisoners a day of credit for every day incarcerated, effectively cutting a prison sentence in half. It does give prison officials authority to revoke credit.
An analysis by the Omaha World Herald found that prison officials rarely apply the penalties that would revoke good time credit. According to the World Herald, “Over the past five years, inmates have been punished for 92,000 infractions, yet good time credit was taken away in less than 5 percent of those cases.”
One other obstacle stands in the way of change. Nebraska prisons are crowded and many legislators have stated they want to consider ways to reduce the prison population.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]