The need to fix Nebraska’s broken corrections systems could not be more clear. This report is but the latest piece of information that thoughtful public policy makers should take into account.
Because former sex offenders are part of the equation, these facts borne out by research also need to be considered:
1. Research on Nebraska registrants shows that they are a much lower risk for reoffense than popularly thought. It is not true that Nebraska’s LB 285 of 2009 reduced offending. Even so, year-to-year reoffense rates for former sex offenders in Nebraska are at about 1 percent or less.
2. Qualitative research that is still under way is showing that neither corrections nor law enforcement are making a positive difference with former sex offenders in Nebraska.
3. Nebraska’s current LB 285 tiering system for registrants IS NOT based on risk for reoffense. It is based on a system of categorizing an offender’s conviction — a system devised by politicians, some of whom later were themselves discovered to be sexual offenders. This system, put in place by LB 285 of 2009, resulted in some offenders who had been found to be low-risk under the old system being reclassified as tier III — lifetime — registrants under Nebraska’s current system. Most states have rejected the type of tiering used in Nebraska because it does not take risk into account.
4. Nebraska’s LB 285 of 2009 creates a complicated web of new technical law violations (residency and travel requirements included) that can result in an offender being sent to prison as the result of a clerical error in a sheriff’s office. This is a needless “feeder system” that is bloating the Nebraska corrections system with people who are not dangerous.
5. Any talk of privatizing corrections should be avoided. When corrections becomes a for-profit industry, it creates a demand for inmates. If corrections is a for-profit industry, there is no compelling incentive to reduce crime because that would hurt business. The demand has to be fed by the creation of laws like LB 285 of 2009. (Simillarly, ankle bracelets have become widely used not because they are good law enforcement tools. They are used because the ankle-bracelet industry makes a lot of money and very effectively markets the technology to law enforcement).