The union that represents state prison workers is calling for construction of additional prison beds in Nebraska. So is the Omaha Police Officers Association. The overcrowding problem is real, and some prudently planned construction projects are underway. But it’s unrealistic to think Nebraska can build its way out of the problem.
The state can’t even find enough workers to staff the facilities that already exist.
The best approach forward is through dialogue by the Ricketts administration and the Legislature to reach consensus on practical steps forward. Additional changes to prison staff compensation will surely be one of the options. The legislative session starts in January. It’s important for state senators and Scott Frakes, the Correctional Services director, to seek agreement rather than stalemate.