Nebraska Officials Refuses Release of Prison Reform Info

By 
The Associated Press

Nebraska officials are refusing to release presentations the state has received from a nonprofit group that is analyzing criminal justice data to help the state deal with severe overcrowding in its prison system.

Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office refused The Omaha World-Herald’s request for those reports from the Crime and Justice Institute because the group of state officials who heard the presentations isn’t a public body, and officials said the information is still in draft form.

“If there’s any legislation that comes out of it, it will go to a hearing just like any other bill and the public will have a chance to weigh in on that,” Ricketts said.

At some point, he said, data will be released in support of any prospective legislation.

Danielle Conrad, director of the Nebraska ACLU, said it doesn’t make sense to her that presentations given to a committee composed of public officials would be considered drafts.

The ACLU, which has opposed Ricketts proposal to build a new prison, said state officials should uphold Nebraska’s “strong and proud tradition of open government” and release the reports.

State Corrections Director Scott Frakes was expected to address prison overcrowding concerns this week before the state Legislature, but it didn’t appear likely that he will address the work state officials are doing with the Crime and Justice Institute.

“The work of CJI and the associated committee is in progress,” Corrections spokeswoman Laura Strimple said. “At this time, the group does not have any announcements. When they do, we’ll be sure to communicate with you.”

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