LINCOLN– The Nebraska Legislature has voted to establish the Nebraska Justice System Special Oversight Committee of the legislature, taking out the term “investigative”. The resolution was approved today on a 28-11 vote, after lawmakers voted 26-7 on an amendment.
The special committee will be chaired by Judiciary Committee Chairperson, Senator Laura Ebke of Crete. The Executive Board would appoint six legislators to the committee, which will study justice system policies followed by the Department of Corrections, Office of Parole Administration, the Board of Parole, Nebraska Crime Commission and Probation Administration.
Ebke said three or four months ago, she wasn’t convinced of the need for the committee.
:24 “laser-like focus”
The oversight committee would continue the work of two previous committees that examined the Department of Corrections, but would take on an expanded role. Senator Bob Krist proposed the new oversight committee contained in Legislative Resolution 127.
Krist defended former State Senator Steve Lathrop for his prior work on justice issues, after some were critical of Lathrop on the floor of the legislature, today. He said Lathrop spent several hundred hours as special counsel during prior committee efforts on justice issues.
:21 “subject matter”
Senator Dan Watermeier, of Syracuse introduced the amendment approved by lawmakers prior to approving the oversight committee.
:17 “paperwork load”
Senator Paul Schumacher, of Columbus said of the corrections system, “you all know it’s a mess”, and the state will probably end up in federal court over the matter.
:34 “continuing process”
Schumacher believes the process must continue. He said the state’s corrections director is constrained by the financial situation facing the State of Nebraska.