State Looking At 6 Sites For Replacement Prison; Engineering Study Puts Cost At $236-M Compared To $220-M To Upgrade 153-Year Old Penitentiary


     Nebraska lawmakers are expected to decide this year whether to build a new prison or upgrade the 153-year old State Penitentiary in Lincoln, and they now have more information on both options.

      State Corrections Director Scott Frakes on Friday released a new engineering study that shows the Penitentiary needs more than $220-million dollars in upgrades to extend its useful life.

       He also said 6 sites of at least 160-acres in the Lincoln and Omaha areas are under consideration for the replacement prison, estimated at roughly $236-million.

       Frakes recommended a new 1,512 bed prison in 2020 to reduce overcrowding and replace the Penitentiary with the overall goal of improving the safety of staff and inmates, not imprisoning more people.

      The engineering study on the existing prison is based on what it would cost for repairs or replacements to bring all infrastructure up to current, modern-day standards. It did not consider new structures or expanding existing ones.  

     The study is part of nearly $15-million in funding approved last year for design plans and site selection. Frakes said property owners will be contacted to secure options on specific parcels while the design process is underway.

       Frakes wouldn’t disclose the exact locations since negotiations are underway, only that they’re either near Lincoln in Lancaster County or near Omaha in Douglas and Dodge Counties.

       The top criteria is proximity to a population center large enough to support staffing. The state prison in Tecumseh has struggled to reach full staffing for years, in part because of its distance from Lincoln and Omaha. 

      Other criteria include the distance to infrastructure, hospitals, emergency services and community services along with road access and terrain.

2 thoughts on “State Looking At 6 Sites For Replacement Prison; Engineering Study Puts Cost At $236-M Compared To $220-M To Upgrade 153-Year Old Penitentiary”

  1. For Eighteen years I lived one block from the Wyoming State Pen. I see Nebraska is looking for a place to build another Penn here in Nebraska. 160 acres is needed. I believe that can be handles with no problem. The other problem is lack of employees. I think with a small amount of incentives could overcome this. Instead of In State Nebraska, how about trying Out State Nebraska in Rushville? Senator Brewer will you please look into this. I will be happy to discuss this the people.

    • Seems like we’ve been down this road before. Before you decide to put a new prison in Rushville or other location in the Panhandle, under the assumption it will bring jobs or construction monies, “follow the money” and consider that not just prisoners will come but also their family, friends and acquaintances will want to visit them or move there also. Possibly not the best upstanding citizens either.

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