Media Contact

Sam Petto, ACLU of Nebraska Communications Director

January 13, 2022

Protest attendees call for investments in prevention instead of a new prison.

LINCOLN, Neb. – The ACLU of Nebraska is taking issue with a major spending priority Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts outlined in his State of the State Address: a new prison.

In today's remarks, Ricketts reiterated his request for the Nebraska Legislature to allocate funding for a new 1,512-bed prison, listed as a $240-million line item in a new appropriations bill. The proposal has shifted repeatedly since it was first introduced and is currently being pitched as a “modernization” and full replacement of the Nebraska State Penitentiary, although Nebraska’s top prison administrator acknowledged last month that the current plan could change.

ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said Nebraskans deserve to see state senators try to address prison challenges with reform before signing off on an enormous expense they can’t undo.

“Historic spending on a massive new prison won’t  fix any of our problems,” Conrad said. “Other states have found a better balance of investing in diversion, reentry and their communities in ways that help reduce reliance on incarceration and improve outcomes. We can save money, meet our shared public safety goals, and reduce racial disparities by investing in people, not prisons.”

Ricketts’ comments today come roughly a year into a comprehensive review of prison data led by a task force of public officials and the Crime and Justice Institute. Findings have informed several new legislative bills introduced this session although the group so far has not made any formal public presentation of the data.

Last month, the ACLU of Nebraska published “Nebraska’s Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline,” a review of the last five years of legislative activity on the prison system that included recommendations for action.

The ACLU of Nebraska advocates for a smart justice approach that would reduce the number of people imprisoned, address racial disparities and advance public safety. Learn more at