(KFOR NEWS December 22, 2020) Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director, Scott R. Frakes, Monday submitted an adjustment to the agency’s biennium budget to include funding to support the siting and construction of a 1,512-bed correctional facility. With an initial footprint of 450,000 square feet, the facility would support 600 minimum, 512 medium and 400 maximum custody beds, with room to allow for future expansion at a base cost of $230 million.
Calling the project a “necessary next step,” Dir. Frakes said construction of a new facility will ensure capacity needs continue to be met within Nebraska’s correctional system.
“Experts say the state’s prison population will keep growing. Not only that, but we are confronted with an inability to expand existing facilities and an aging infrastructure at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP).”
Earlier this year, NDCS issued a request for information (RFI), relative to the proposed construction of a new prison facility. Thirteen responses were submitted.
“After considerable time reviewing proposals and funding options, a direct appropriation through the legislature makes the most sense for this project,” noted Dir. Frakes. “There is also the potential to mitigate the final construction cost and ongoing operating costs by repurposing other facilities, like NSP. There is some flexibility in how we move forward, which is important when we contemplate what might be needed in the future.”
Director Frakes acknowledged that siting a facility in a location with a ready work force would be key.
“We will contract with an engineering firm immediately to begin drafting a program statement – the document that will guide locating the facility and specific details as to how it should be built,” said Dir. Frakes. “Once funding is approved, it will take 36 to 48 months to be at a place where we could start utilizing a new facility.”
The project will be funded over three biennium, and the funding request for the upcoming biennium is $115 million. In addition to providing much needed bed and support space, a new facility will provide efficiencies and technological advances that will lead to improved safety, better outcomes, and require less staffing.
“This will impact the entire system in a positive way and one that helps ensure public safety well into the future,” said Dir. Frakes.
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