Nebraska prison population hits new high; ‘I hope it’s an anomaly,’ corrections chief says

Here’s a record Nebraska leaders didn’t want to set: a new high for prison overcrowding.

On Monday, state prisons held 5,515 inmates, the most in history and a surprising landmark in light of several efforts to reduce overcrowding.

“I hope it’s an anomaly,” State Corrections Director Scott Frakes told a panel of state lawmakers.

It means that state prisons are holding 2,140 more inmates than they were designed to handle — about two prisons’ worth — and are at 163 percent of capacity, the second-worst overcrowding in the nation. It also casts even more doubt on whether the state can fend off a civil rights lawsuit from the ACLU of Nebraska and meet a July 2020 deadline to reduce overcrowding to 140 percent of capacity or else start paroling hundreds of prisoners. Read More.