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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bill to allow WEC workers at schools lost in shuffle

Friday, April 17, 2009

A bill that would allow offenders/inmates at the Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook to work at educational facilities apparently has been lost in the shuffle.

LB 429, introduced by State Sen. Mark Christensen, did not make it on the Legislative Consent Calendar as planned, said Christensen Thursday morning at the Legislative conference call at the McCook Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Consent Calendar is where typically non-controversial bills are briefly debated for no more than 15 minutes and advanced to the next legislative stage.

Christensen said he would continue to pursue options in getting LB 429 onto the floor, by contacting Speaker of the Legislature Sen. Mike Friend and maybe attaching it with another bill from the Judiciary committee.

Currently, inmates with the Nebraska Department of Corrections are allowed to enter into arrangements with other state boards or agencies except those connected with education.

LB 429 would allow WEC inmate/offenders to enter into agreements with educational facilities and work under supervision of the Corrections Department.

The WEC had been providing labor to area schools until Correction Department officials were made aware of a little-known state law that prohibited it.

McCook School Superintendent Dave Schley said at the December meeting of the McCook School board that the district had benefitted greatly from the labor provided by the WEC.

Another one of Christensen's bills concerning the WEC did make it onto the Consent Calendar and was heard Thursday. LB 274 allows the director of Correction Services to place inmates at the WEC, thus reducing prison over crowding and allowing inmates to participate in treatment programs offered at the facility.

Currently only Nebraska Parole Boards and District Court Judges can place inmates/offenders at the WEC.

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