New Prison, Criminal Justice Reform Dominate Budget Debate (Nebraska)

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Nebraska Public Media on 3/16/2022 by Fred Knapp

The Nebraska Legislature continued debating the state budget Wednesday, with the focus on questions about building a new prison and criminal justice reform.

The budget up for debate Wednesday includes all sorts of proposals, including $15.5 million for improvement to the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney, $25 million for an ag innovation building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, $8.3 million for 8 miles of a hiker-biker trail connecting Lincoln and Omaha, and $3.6 million for a 15 percent increase in pay rates for providers of juvenile and behavioral health services.

But by far the largest part of the debate focused on two other issues that were not part of the bill being debated: Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal for a new, 1,512 bed, $270 million prison to replace the Nebraska State Penitentiary which was designed to hold 818 people, and proposals for criminal justice reforms designed to hold down future prison population.