Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning announced new legislation Monday that would eliminate automatic "good time" credit for inmates convicted of violent crimes.
The proposal instead calls for the idea of "earned time" credit to replace the "good time" credit automatically received by Nebraska inmates.
"It is time to eliminate automatic ‘good time' credit for the most violent inmates," Heineman said. "The safety of our citizens should be priority number one and that starts with violent criminals being required to earn any reduction in their sentence, rather than automatically receiving it."
"Inmates should actively earn sentence reductions," added Bruning. "This bill is the next step in our efforts to protect Nebraskans."
The "earned time" bill would
require violent inmates to maintain good behavior while incarcerated and
participate in rehabilitation programs.
Under the proposal, violent crimes would include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and a few other crimes.
Under current law, inmates sentenced by the judicial system to serve terms with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services automatically have their sentenced reduced by half for their term of incarceration.
"Many Nebraskans are unaware of the automatic sentence reductions under ‘good time,'" said Heineman. "They believe that when a judge sentences someone to 20 years that means the person would serve 20 years, not 10 years, which is the reality under current law."
The legislation will be introduced during the current 2014 Legislative Session by State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha.
"The current ‘good time' law has been in place for over two decades without serious change," said State Sen. Lautenbaugh. "Given the recent high profile criminal events in the past year, I believe Nebraskans want and expect the Legislature to change the current ‘good time' law."
The proposal was partly inspired by the case of Nikko Jenkins, who is accused of four Omaha-area murders after his release from prison.
In an effort to reform the "good time" credit further, last month the governor signed rules and regulations related to the Department of Correctional Services and the administration of "good time" credit.
The new rule allows for corrections officials to take away twice as much "good time" for misbehavior, including assaults on corrections officials and other prisoners. The new maximum penalty allows for up to two years, instead of one year, of "good time" loss for inmates.