LINCOLN, Neb. — Two Nebraska senators say now isn’t the time to disband a state committee that has been working with a national state government group to handle prison crowding.

The committee of about 25 members met for the last time Tuesday. Its coordinator and the Council of State Governments will conclude work within the next month, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

Sens. Bob Krist of Omaha and Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln say they believe the group shouldn’t disband because of questionable progress made on crowding in county jails and a pending Nebraska ACLU lawsuit against the Department of Correctional Services.

“Given all that’s happened just recently, and given the progress and the roadblocks that we’ve met along the way, is it time to disband this group as an oversight committee?” Krist said. “Does it make sense to take these stakeholders who have been involved from the very beginning out of the picture completely for the future?”

Gov. Pete Ricketts said different agencies and courts continue to work on the issues and could meet with a couple other officials periodically to review the work.

Krist said the group also hasn’t addressed the impact people with mental illnesses and substance abuse have on the jails.

“I feel a lot of compassion for the jailers in Douglas County for what they have to put up with over there because. … we have the biggest mental health facility in the state of Nebraska right in Douglas County (jail), and we don’t know what to do with them,” said Tom Riley, public defender for Douglas County.

Ricketts said work will continue with a permanent group of stakeholders in the state, just without the Council of State Governments.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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