LINCOLN — Amid complaints that the state has released violent offenders, the Department of Corrections on Monday proposed tougher rules for taking away good time from inmates who break the rules while incarcerated.
The proposals would double the amount of good time an inmate could lose for minor as well as serious infractions committed while in prison.
For instance, serious assaults could result in an inmate forfeiting as much as two years' worth of good time. The current penalty provides for the loss of up to one year of good time.
The issue of good time came into tragic focus in August after a recently released prison inmate, Nikko Jenkins, was arrested in connection with four slayings in Omaha during a 10-day span.
While in prison, Jenkins assaulted another inmate, attacked a corrections officer, was involved in an attack in a shower and was caught with a toilet-brush shank.
Prison officials took away good time credit from Jenkins on eight occasions, which kept him in prison about another year and a half. But existing rules could have kept him behind bars another 9 1/2 months, through at least April 2014.
Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning are among the state leaders calling for tougher rules on good time, particularly for violent offenders. Heineman has said such inmates should earn good time, rather than get it automatically.
Under current law, inmates are awarded one day of good time for every day spent in prison, effectively cutting their sentences in half.
Prison officials can take away good time for violations of prison rules, but that rarely happens, according to a World-Herald analysis of state data.
Good time can be forfeited for a variety of reasons, ranging from disobeying a corrections officer to assaulting an inmate.