Omaha Table Talk Discusses Prison Reform, Incarceration

The virtual Omaha Table Talk on Zoom hosted by Inclusive Communities focused on issues of prison reform and mass incarceration, Nov. 10, 2020. (YouTube)
Molly Ashford
The Daily Record

A recent community discussion explored the issues of prison reform and mass incarceration.

Inclusive Communities hosted a virtual table talk on Nov. 10 with members of the Omaha community. Inclusive Communities board member Shawntal Mallory Esq. moderated the discussion with panelists Dominique Morgan and Shakur Abdullah.

Morgan serves as the executive director of national prison abolitionist organization Black and Pink, which works to protect LGBTQ and HIV-positive and formerly incarcerated people through pen pal and newsletter programs, trainings, community-based programming and housing assistance. Abdullah is a trainer and facilitator at Omaha’s Community Justice Center, a nonprofit providing restorative justice programs for victims, offenders and communities. Both panelists were previously incarcerated and have worked since their respective releases to improve the conditions for those still behind bars and those re-entering society, on a statewide and national level. At this table talk, Abdullah and Morgan discussed Nebraska-specific issues pertaining to prison overcrowding and mass incarceration.

“The Nebraska Department of Corrections has been over the threshold of being overcapacity as a system since around 2001,” Morgan said. “You have a system that has had the weight of it stressed for over 20 years.”

Abdullah further noted that, despite having a prison population of only around 5,500 people, Nebraska prisons are the second most overcrowded in the country.

“Corrections does not exist in a vacuum,” Abdullah said. “It’s all interconnected with everything else. There has to be a holistic approach taken, and a lot of that deals with programming. The ultimate litmus test for whether or not your corrections program is successful or not is recidivism.”

Nebraska’s three-year recidivism rates in 2016 sat at 30.25%, according to the most recent data from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

Abdullah has worked alongside state Sen. Patty Pansing-Brooks to introduce legislation last session that would have eliminated the sentence of life without parole for offenders under 21.

“I have helped her with that legislation and plan on doing so in the future to eliminate that sentence in the state, and hopefully to raise the age limit to where the science is,” Abdullah said.

Watch the table talk at


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