Expanded prison, parole evaluations advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill from general file March 3 that would require evaluation of Nebraska’s prison and parole programs.

Sen. Steve Lathrop
Sen. Steve Lathrop

LB896, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, would require the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and the Division of Parole Supervision to use an independent contractor or academic institution to evaluate programs funded by the department.

Under the bill, nonclinical treatment and structured programs would be evaluated on a regular basis and clinical treatment programs would be evaluated every three years. When applicable, evaluations would include a cost-benefit analysis, ratings of effectiveness in reducing recidivism and the availability and timeliness of programs.

Evaluation results would be sent to the inspector general of corrections and the evaluated entities.

Individuals sent to NDCS are expected to be rehabilitated, Lathrop said, and part of that comes from programming, which needs to be evaluated to ensure evidence-based best practices are used and that they are accessible to the inmate population.

“LB896 will assist the [NDCS] in providing quality, evidence-based programs to incarcerated individuals and help ensure that our tax dollars are going to effective programming that improves public safety and achieves the goals it is intended to achieve,” Lathrop said.

An amendment offered by the Judiciary Committee, adopted 40-0, would clarify language regarding nonclinical treatment, remove the Division of Parole Supervision from the bill and remove the provision that an independent contractor be listed as an entity permitted to conduct program evaluations. Education institutions instead would be the sole entity responsible for the evaluations.

Senators voted to advance LB896 to select file 40-0.

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