OMAHA (KPTM)- Governor Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning announced new legislation Monday that would require some inmates to earn reduced prison sentences instead of getting them automatically through good time credit.
“It is time to eliminate automatic ‘good time’ credit for the most violent inmates,” said Gov. Heineman. “The safety of our citizens should be priority number one and that starts with violent criminals being required to earn any reduction in their sentence, rather than automatically receiving it.”
“Inmates should actively earn sentence reductions,” said Attorney General Bruning. “This bill is the next step in our efforts to protect Nebraskans.”
The legislation will be introduced by State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha.
“The current ‘good time’ law has been in place for over two decades without serious change,” said State Sen. Lautenbaugh. “Given the recent high profile criminal events in the past year, I believe Nebraskans want and expect the Legislature to change the current ‘good time’ law.”
This “earned time” legislation would replace the current “good time” law. Under current law, inmates with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services automatically have their sentenced reduced by half for their term of incarceration. Inmates get a day of good time for every day served.
The law would apply to inmates who commit the most violent crimes including murder, manslaughter, first degree assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, escape, assault of an officer, assault by a confined person, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and similar offenses committed after the bill would become law.
“Many Nebraskans are unaware of the automatic sentence reductions under ‘good time.’ They believe that when a judge sentences someone to 20 years that means the person would serve 20 years, not 10 years, which is the reality under current law. It’s time to change the ‘good time’ to ‘earned time’ law.”
Last month, Gov. Heineman signed rules and regulations related to the Department of Correctional Services and the administration of “good time” credit. The new rule allows for corrections officials to take away twice as much “good time” for misbehavior, including assaults on corrections officials and other prisoners. The new maximum penalty allows for up to two years, instead of one year, of “good time” loss for inmates.