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nebraska state penitentiary

Nebraska is inching closer to building a new, $230 million prison after state lawmakers approved design and planning money for the proposed facility to replace the state’s oldest prison. The measure won final approval despite objections from a few lawmakers who said the state should be spending money on housing, education, mental health services and other priorities rather than the proposed 1,512-bed prison. The funding includes $14.9 million to help state officials create plans and select a site for a prison that would house minimum, medium and maximum-security prisoners.

Nebraska Department of Corrections

The director of Nebraska’s prison system has unveiled plans to convert the state’s oldest prison into a minimum-security facility, but he says the plan would only work if lawmakers agree to build a separate, $230 million prison for higher-risk inmates. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes says the proposal to overhaul the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln is part of a larger effort to ease overcrowding in the state prisons. Some lawmakers have questioned the costs.

KSNB

There are now more than 34-thousand COVID-19 cases in Nebraska.  Officials confirmed 293 new cases yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 34-thousand-46.  There have been 392 coronavirus-related deaths in Nebraska since the start of the pandemic. The Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln has been placed under quarantine after 29 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Sunday. The positive cases were identified by tests that were done Friday.

Five years after Nebraska lawmakers approved a sweeping plan to reduce prison crowding, state officials are only marginally closer to fixing the problem despite millions of dollars in additional funding. Nebraska is virtually certain to fall into an “overcrowding emergency” on Wednesday, having missed a state-imposed deadline to reduce its inmate population below 140% of what its facilities were designed to hold. The emergency designation will force Nebraska officials to consider paroling all inmates who are eligible.

Officials say three people have been arrested after a package containing tobacco, cellphones and synthetic marijuana were thrown over over a wall of the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. The Nebraska State Patrol says in a news release that an 18-year-old man was arrested around 8 a.m. Tuesday after he was seen walking near the penitentiary and throwing a package over the wall. Nebraska Department of Corrections officials say it contained two cellphones, tobacco and K2. Two other men, ages 22 and 21, found in a vehicle across the street from the penitentiary also were arrested.

Nearly 800 Nebraska State Penitentiary inmates _ more than half the Lincoln prison’s population _ have signed a petition sent to state officials and various news outlets decrying conditions at the prison. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the petition pans penitentiary administrators for putting the prison in modified lockdown, which has curtailed clubs or organization meetings and kept inmates from having full use of the prison law library.