Dear Mr. Heist:
Thank you for your recent emails to me and others. I have actually had some people contact me and ask questions about some of the points you raised.
I agree that it would seem that you can only address overcrowding two ways, or a combination of the two (decrease population or increase capacity). However, I would argue that the Department does indeed have some influence on the population. They can provide programming in a more timely manner, as well as improved and more effective clinical and non-clinical programs, so that incarcerated individuals are better candidates for parole and they get paroled earlier, or that they learn what they need in the system so that they do not come back again. They could also provide significantly more vocational skills programs, job training programs, jobs, social and life skills programs and educational classes and programs that assist in moving people forward in their lives. I think providing a more healthy environment in which to live, including more access to clubs, hobbies, recreation and group activities, can also positively impact the population and assist with the decreasing of the population.
I am not aware if Chief Justice Heavican testified before the Judiciary Committee this year but other judges have, as well as county attorneys and public defenders. Chairperson Cotton and the Director of Parole Administration, Julie Micek, have been before the committee this year and will be in the future.
As far as my office, the Board of Parole is not under my purview. I do have oversight over Parole Administration and have worked with them to provide data to the Legislature. They are very open and transparent and have a very good system regarding their data.
At this time, I don’t think there is a desire to expand the role of my office. As you probably know, I am only an office of one person and no action has been taken to provide additional assistance to me despite the growing workload of my office. I think that the Nebraska Crime Commission has an important role to play in the analysis of sentencing and I believe the Judiciary Commitee has been communicating with them. I have enough on my plate right now but I appreciate the vote of confidence.