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JRI Years: 2015, 2023



In 2014, Nebraska’s prisons were operating at 159 percent of capacity and were expected to reach 170 percent of capacity by 2020. While Nebraska’s resident population and prison admissions were growing, total numbers of reported crime and arrests declined from 2004 to 2013. Further, many people left prison without supervision. From 2014 to 2015, CSG Justice Center experts worked with state leaders to use a JRI approach to address these issues.


As a result of this process, state policymakers enacted Justice Reinvestment legislation (Legislative Bill 605) in May 2015. Among other provisions, the law required the use of probation rather than incarceration for most people convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses; ensured post-release supervision for most people upon release from prison; supported victims through improved restitution collection; and strengthened parole supervision to reduce recidivism. To achieve that, Nebraska implemented several changes to policy and practice.1


To support Nebraska’s JRI effort, lawmakers allocated approximately $15 million in up-front investments for additional probation officers, community-based programs and treatment, improvements to parole supervision, quality assurance measures, and financial assistance to county jails. With these funds, the state aligned its responses to supervision violations with what research demonstrates is most effective, improved data collection and cross-reporting across state agencies and stakeholders to better track outcomes, and streamlined reentry for people leaving prison through improved interagency collaboration. Nebraska’s JRI legislation was also projected to increase the amount of victim restitution collected, and in the 4 years following enactment, contributions toward restitution obligations by people on supervision exceeded $5.5 million.2

For more information, see Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska.

JRI-Driven Policies and Practices

  • Reclassify/redefine drug offenses
  • Reclassify/redefine property offenses
  • Establish/expand presumptive probation for some offenses
  • Revise parole hearings/decision/eligibility standards
  • Authorize administrative jail sanctions
  • Authorize/develop/modify graduated responses or matrices for violations
  • Establish mandatory reentry supervision
  • Require/improve risk-needs assessment
  • Require evidence-based practices
  • Improve behavioral health interventions
  • Require data collection/performance measures
  • Improve restitution/victim notification
  • Establish/extend oversight council



Nebraska launched a Justice Reinvestment effort in 2021 focused on the state’s overcapacity challenge, as it remains the country’s most overcrowded prison system. Nebraska’s prison population has grown 21 percent over the past decade and is projected to increase an additional 25 percent by 2030.

Faced with a population increase and the inability to adequately house its current population, Nebraska sought technical assistance from the Crime and Justice Institute in 2020. This process established the Nebraska Criminal Justice Working Group, which reviewed corrections data and found that the population growth was largely due to increases in the length of stay and declines in the number of individuals being released from parole. The Working Group made several recommendations designed to reduce sentence lengths and expand parole eligibility.


As a result of two years of work, state policymakers enacted Justice Reinvestment legislation (LB 50) in June 2023. Based on the recommendations of the Working Group, the bill included a streamlined parole policy for individuals convicted of nonviolent offenses, a reduced mandatory minimum term for individuals convicted of habitual offenses, a look-back period for habitual theft enhancement, and a requirement for parole review at least 2 years prior to a person’s mandatory discharge date for sentences 20 years or less.

In addition to these policies that addressed the increasing length of stay, LB 50 included several policies that are targeted to provide more support to ensure that people are successful in the community. These included expanding eligibility and access to specialty courts, providing more tangible incentives for individuals who are succeeding on supervision, and piloting a housing program for people who commit technical violations that does not include a return to jail.

For more information, see Justice Reinvestment: Nebraska

JRI-Driven Policies and Practices

  • Expand behavioral health services
  • Revise sentencing enhancements
  • Revise mandatory minimums
  • Establish sentencing commission/revise sentencing guidelines
  • Reduce collateral consequences associated with conviction
  • Revise parole hearings/decision/eligibility standards
  • Establish/expand presumptive parole for qualifying cases
  • Establish/expand geriatric or medical parole
  • Authorize performance incentive funding
  • Require evidence-based practices
  • Reform/establish specialty courts or diversion programs
  • Improve behavioral health interventions
  • Require data collection/performance measures
  • Establish measures to streamline/improve efficiency of system

Other JRI-Funded Projects

In Nebraska, individual agencies, in partnership with the CSG Justice Center, participated in the Justice Counts initiative as part of a larger criminal justice effort.

1 The Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2023, Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska, New York, NY: The Council of State Governments Justice Center, retrieved May 18, 2023 from

2 Ibid.

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