Prison reform debate kicks off in Lincoln

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Updated: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 11:50:01 CST

After months of anticipation, today state lawmakers have begun the first round of debate on one of the state's biggest issues: Prison Reform. This morning Senator Ashford's priority bill LB 907 is taking center stage on the unicameral floor.

The bill aims to reduce recidivism and criminal behavior and ease prisoners back into society by providing for supervised release, reentry probation officers, the creation of the Nebraska Center for Justice Research among other goals.

Senator Ashford's bill includes funding for different programs that will help prisoners upon reentry... including $5 million for prisoner job training, nearly $4 million to expand substance abuse programs and another $5 million for services for mentally ill prisoners.

With Nebraska's prison system currently operating at nearly 60 percent over capacity, Ashford, who is head of the judiciary committee, has remained committed to increasing the state's supervised release and re-entry programs.

Governor Heineman has been pushing for changes to the state's Good Time Law, however, LB 832, or the Earned Time Law, has not yet been put on the General File. A first round vote on Senator Ashford's bill could come later today.