Bill seeks to enhance correctional industries program

A corrections program that provides employment for inmates would be enhanced under a bill heard Feb. 18 by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

LB1080, introduced by Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, would increase the purchasing limit for Cornhusker State Industries (CSI) from $25,000 to $50,000. CSI, the state Department of Correctional Services industries program, provides employment for inmates.

The bill also would allow recycling of materials used by CSI in the production of goods and services, and would allow CSI to retain the recycling proceeds.

Seiler said CSI receives no general fund support and provides job training and other valuable skills to approximately 500 inmates on a daily basis. Those skills are essential, he said, in ensuring that inmates are able to successfully adjust to life upon release.

“It’s a key component of the department’s reentry program,” Seiler said.

Jeremy Elder, assistant deputy director in charge of CSI, testified in support of the bill. CSI is self-supporting, he said, and the current cap on purchases of components and parts directly from vendors has not been increased since the 1980s.

“[The current cap] limits our ability to provide responsive customer service and obtain the best pricing,” Elder said.

No opponent testimony was offered and the committee advanced the bill to general file on a 7-0 vote.

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