Population at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook could increase substantially, under a legislative bill that advanced out of committee last week.
Introduced by Sen. Mark Christensen, LB 274 allows the Director of Correctional Services to assign a felony offender to the WEC. Those convicted of a capital offense or sex offenders are not eligible.
Currently, only the Nebraska Board of Parole determines the placement of inmates, a time consuming process. LB 274 would speed up the process, which will help with prison overcrowding and allow inmates to take advantage of the short-term treatment programs available at the WEC.
Felony offenders are also being placed at the WEC under the direction of District Court judges.
Population at the WEC is currently at 116, with enough room for 200, said Kyle Clapp, WEC case unit manager.
Christensen said Thursday morning at the Government Affairs Legislative conference call at the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce that the bill was approved unanimously in committee and placed on General File.
Speaking in favor of the proposal was Bob Houston of the Nebraska Department of Corrections.
Another bill Christensen has introduced also advanced out of committee to General File and would allow work crews from the WEC to work under proper supervision at school districts, educational service units, community colleges, state colleges, and universities.
WEC work crews had been assisting at area schools until it was discovered that wording in a state statute prohibited it.
Speaking in favor were Weldon Sleight of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and Brent McMurtrey of ESU 15.