State prison system seeks funds for new staff, better facilities

September 18, 2018

LINCOLN — The state prison system is seeking a slight increase in funding to add more staff and improve facilities at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

On Monday, the Department of Correctional Services submitted its budget request for the next two fiscal years. It seeks funding to add 52 new corporals and sergeants over that period and to purchase an electronic system to track health records. The department also proposes to spend $14 million to expand the kitchen, library and dining room at the penitentiary.

A 100-bed dormitory, which was funded previously, is supposed to be built at the penitentiary during the current fiscal year to help ease prison overcrowding. Nebraska’s prisons are at 157 percent of capacity now. The funding request is for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 budget, which will be debated by the State Legislature next session.

Among the goals outlined by the agency are reducing staff turnover to 18 percent and cutting staff injuries by 50 percent.

The state prison system is being sued for being overcrowded, and a recent report said the department faces a staffing crisis, with turnover of 31 percent.

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