Omaha Sen. Heath Mello says the state justice system will need big reforms to keep it from having to build a new prison. Mello’s comments came Friday during an informal meeting of several lawmakers looking for ways to address prison overcrowding.
Nebraska’s nine prisons have room for 3,175 inmates, but hold about 4,800 — about 151 percent of capacity. State prisons are projected to hit 171 percent by 2020, unless changes are made in how Nebraska treats offenders.
Some states have cut their prison populations by diverting more drug offenders into treatment programs and instituting sentencing reforms.