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Critics Challenge Proposal to Build New Private Prison

LINCOLN- The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced that it will consider plans to build a 1,600 bed private prison to help ease currently overcrowded conditions and address projected growth in prison populations. Sam Petto with the ACLU of Nebraska says the state already has invested heavily to keep up with the challenges created by a system that, on average, sees nearly 5,600 people incarcerated every day…

The agency is considering a public-private partnership that would allow the state to lease a new prison, to avoid up-front construction costs. Petto says Nebraska already is struggling to adequately staff current facilities, and warns that partnering with a for-profit company would open the door for increased human rights violations documented in other states. Petto argues that a lease-to-own strategy would not benefit taxpayers in the long run…

Petto says funding for corrections in Nebraska increased by 290 percent between 1985 and 2016, outpacing spending in other areas, including higher education, which grew by just 57 percent over the same time period. Nebraska’s prison population is currently at nearly 160 percent of capacity, making the state the second most overcrowded in the nation.

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