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Senators: Lawsuit could prompt Nebraska prison crowding fix

Senators: Lawsuit could prompt Nebraska prison crowding fix

After years of failed efforts to reduce overcrowding in Nebraska’s prisons, some lawmakers say a recent federal lawsuit may be the only way to force state officials to fix the problem.

The lawsuit filed by civil liberties groups didn’t surprise senators or other state officials, who were repeatedly warned they could face legal action if they didn’t address the issue themselves.

Nebraska lawmakers and Gov. Pete Ricketts have worked with national consultants and passed several laws designed to lessen the crowding, but the problem has persisted.

Some lawmakers say the state still isn’t spending enough to address a lack of prison mental health services to keep inmates from reoffending, and they doubt anything will change in next year’s session.

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