An effort to end “three strikes and you’re out” criminal sentencing as well as scale back the habitual criminal statute advances in the Unicameral, barely.
Though two other crime bills aimed at reducing the prison population have breezed into the final round of voting, an effort to end mandatory minimum sentencing and reduce the use of the habitual criminal statutes has met firm resistance.
Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha told colleagues during legislative floor debate both laws serve Nebraska well by locking up the bad guys.
“We need to make sure that those people that deserve punishment get the punishment they deserve,” Harr stated in opposing LB 173.
LB 173 would end minimum mandatory prison sentences and restrict what crimes qualify for use in the habitual criminal statutes.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus argued in favor of LB 173, telling colleagues the mandatory minimum and habitual criminal statutes undermine judicial authority and give too much power to prosecutors.
“What LB 173 does it says, look, judges sentence, prosecutors prosecute, and you shouldn’t mix the two in the interest of justice,” Schumacher said.
Initially, LB 173 fell three votes short of the total needed to advance to the final round of voting. Three senators changed their votes and gave it the minimum needed to move forward.