LINCOLN–(KFOR July 18)–A Nebraska-based non-profit aimed on criminal justice reform claims that $1-million that could be added to the Lancaster County Jail budget will go to boarding contracts, instead of rehab and diversion programs.

Justice In Action says those boarding contracts pay for inmates from Lancaster County to be housed at other jails, with the current Lancaster County Jail at near capacity.  During Tuesday’s public comment period before the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners, the Rev. Kirstie Engel, who is a member of Justice in Action, said they are extremely concerned about the jail continuing to get full.

“We know that our diversion programs are successful and while we hope that the new director of Community Corrections (Jeff Kirkpatrick) will continue to create more restorative programs we also knew we couldn’t wait and see,” Rev. Engel told Board members.

Two months ago, Justice In Action asked county officials to commit $600,000 toward eliminating fees and increasing staff at Community Corrections in Lincoln, to give more people access to diversion programs.

Pastor Tobi White from Our Saviors Lutheran Church was among the Justice In Action members who also got to speak to the County Board.  She said help has been shown to work.

“And yet, this budget takes the easy road in an effort to bide your time until you can build a new jail and house more people.  That is not justice,” Pastor White added.

County Board members are not allowed to rebut during the public comment period.