Once an inmate has been sentenced to the Department of Correctional Services, the inmate is sent to a reception center, either the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center or the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. He/she will then be assigned an institutional number and will be fingerprinted, photographed, and given medical and dental examinations. During the initial evaluation period, staff put together a Classification Study for each inmate. Classification is a systematic process of identifying an inmate's characteristics, history and needs and then matching the inmate with the appropriate custody level, supervision requirements, and programming recommendations. This process results in the assignment of the inmate to one of the correctional institutions. The inmate's institutional placement will most likely change several times during the incarceration as he/she demonstrates progress and nears release.
The information is gathered by having the inmate complete questionnaires, take tests and talk with various staff members. Some of the information collected includes the inmate's criminal and work histories; social/family background; medical status; use of drugs or alcohol; educational achievements and needs; and assessments of psychological stability, victim potential and violent tendencies; and religious preference.
The Department also uses a numbered scoring system to help staff decide what custody level and amount of supervision will maintain public safety and institutional security while assisting in the inmate's rehabilitation. This system is based on one used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and covers such areas as:
The information contained in the Classification Study and the results of the scoring system are carefully reviewed by staff in order to make the inmate's initial classification assignment. It will include recommendations for work and/or school assignment, any counseling needs such as substance abuse treatment or mental health programming, and custody level.
The Department policies provide for classification reviews at least once a year for each inmate. Reviews will also be held if the inmate receives a promotion or demotion in custody level, a change in program or work assignment, a transfer to another correctional facility, or for any other reason(s) deemed necessary and appropriate by staff. Any review held after the inmate's initial classification, which may result in a change in custody, assignment, or facility is called a "reclassification" action.
Should an inmate be transferred to another correctional facility, two reviews of classification are required: one before the transfer in order to approve the move to the new facility and one after the inmate arrives at the new facility so a new program and/or work assignment can be made.
NOTE: Victims are not automatically notified by VINE when a transfer occurs.
In general, inmates who meet the following criteria may make application for work or educational release: 1) be within 18 months of his/her tentative release date or set for a parole hearing; 2) have demonstrated a level of responsible performance which provides reasonable assurance that he/she will comply with the policies, rules and regulations of the program, including consideration of his/her institutional adjustment and disciplinary record; and 3) have a medical examination within the past six months.
Inmates who wish to be considered for placement on educational release must meet the following conditions in addition to those listed above: 1) have an approved education plan, including funding and acceptance; and 2) have served a sufficient amount of his/her sentence so as to not require a return to the institution following completion of the approved educational program.
There are six separate active Nebraska laws governing the release of every inmate committed to the Department. Because of the many legal opinions and court decisions regarding the interpretation of these laws, it is impracticable to develop comprehensible guidelines on this topic. Thus, an individual analysis of each committed inmate's case shall be conducted to ascertain the appropriate and proper application of the applicable law(s).
Parole eligibility is determined by the minimum sentence imposed by the Court; however, the Board of Parole, alone, has the authority to determine if and when parole may be granted. The Nebraska Board of Parole regularly reviews the inmate cases to determine if and/or when an inmate may be released on parole. These reviews are basically an interview with the offender and are not public meetings. All actions of the Board are by majority vote. If the Board schedules a Parole Hearing, anyone may attend and provide testimony, if they so desire. If you are a registered victim, you will be notified of any parole hearings. As a victim, you can testify before the Board of Parole, or submit a written statement for consideration by the Board. If you plan on testifying at the hearing, it would be helpful to contact the Board of Parole office at (402) 471-2156. Hearings are generally held at the institution where the offender is housed. You can contact the Board of Parole office to find out the time and location of the scheduled Hearing.
At the Parole Hearing, the offender will be given a chance to speak with the Board about his/her progress throughout the prison term. If you wish to testify, your testimony will be heard at this time. Please let the Chairperson of the Board know prior to the start of the Hearing that you desire to testify. At the conclusion of the Hearing the Board will decide whether or not to parole the offender. If the offender is paroled, he/she will be discharged that day following all processing out paperwork. If you have any fear of reprisal, you may present information to the Board in the form of a written statement prior to the Hearing. If you express your concern to the Board of Parole, this statement will be deemed confidential. Victim Assistance staff is available to accompany and support victims and survivors who choose to attend Parole Hearings.
If parole is granted, the inmate is assigned to a Parole Office by the Office of Parole Administration to supervise the parolee while on parole status. At the time parole is granted, the parolee agrees to adhere to certain conditions of parole. If any of the conditions of parole are violated, the parolee may be brought before the Board of Parole for a review of that parolee. Parole may be revoked if the parolee fails to comply with the established conditions of parole. If the parole is revoked, the inmate is returned to the custody of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services until re-paroled or discharged.
If you have any questions or concerns about the parole process of a specific case, you may either write or call the Board of Parole at:
Nebraska Board of Parole
Lincoln, NE 68509-4754
Telephone: (402) 471-2156
Court orders to obtain funds from inmates are processed for federal court filing fees, child support, restitution, and fines/fees. All court orders should direct the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services to withhold funds at either a flat amount per month or a percentage of funds received. Withholding can come from all income or just earnings and this should be identified in the court order as well. The order should also specify where the funds are to be remitted.
Court orders or termination of court orders should be sent to:
Central Office Inmate Accounting
P.O. Box 94661
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
Questions on the processing of court orders should be directed to:
Inga Hookstra, NDCS Controller (402-479-5756)
You should contact the facility where the inmate is located and ask to speak to the unit manager where the inmate is assigned.
Call the Victim Assistance Program for information about Victim Impact Panels presented to incarcerated offenders.
For some victims and survivors, seeing firsthand where inmates are incarcerated helps to understand what "time in prison" is really like? Consistent with security needs, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services will arrange tours of our correctional facilities upon request. Please contact the Victim Assistance Representative to arrange such tour.