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Chairperson Sen. Lathrop and Judiciary Committee Board Members
District #12, Room 1103 State Capitol
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509

February 2, 2022

RE: LB1154

Dear Senator Lathrop and Judiciary Committee Members,

My name is Jasmine L. Harris. I am the Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for RISE. I request that this testimony be included as part of the public hearing record that shows RISE is in support of LB1154.

RISE is the largest nonprofit organization in Nebraska focused solely on habilitative programming in prisons and reentry support. At RISE, transformation starts pre-release and continues post-release. Our inside/out model bridges incarceration to the community and considers all the critical steps in that journey. We prepare and train people for each phase through intensive character development, employment readiness, job creation through entrepreneurship, family programming and case management. We transform people in the community by building awareness and empathy that leads to support and opportunity. These connections heal families, create employment pathways and lower recidivism. The mission of RISE is to break generational cycles of incarceration.

We support all opportunities that allow more people to have the opportunity to parole. As we provide reentry case management services to individuals that graduate our program, we begin about 1 year prior to their release date working on their reentry plan, which includes housing, employment, medical and behavioral healthcare and even preparing them to appear in front of the parole board. We’d rather see this opportunity available to more of our participants because the more reentry preparation that is provided, the likelihood of success increases.

We also attend parole hearings for our participants in a supportive capacity, so we see firsthand the interactions with the board and hear the reasons for revocation. Changing the guidelines to focus on more concrete objectives would help ensure more people who have shown great strides in improving

their success upon reentry are prepared and granted parole. In January 2020, we conducted a stakeholders meeting that discussed the parole process across the spectrum of incarceration. Concerns that were mentioned included having a fair hearing which further talked about basing parole eligibility on a person’s rehabilitation and not crime. There have been concerns that many people were not paroled because the victim’s statement was being considered each time they had a hearing. Changing this to consider objective evidence that was not available at the time of sentencing will help alleviate those concerns.

Ensuring that people have a transition period from incarceration to reintegration back into society is a crucial step in successful reentry. Having someone mandatorily discharged without adequate reentry preparation is a sure way to release someone into crisis. RISE’s Reentry Specialists are working with individuals at the community corrections level diligently with coordinating planning, housing, employment, transportation and more. Within the next 18 months, we have about 97 program participants who will either have final hearings, parole eligibility dates, and/or dates for their earliest possible release. By July, we will be working with them on reentry plans. If this bill is taken into consideration, about 78 of these individuals may have a guaranteed chance to be in a setting where we can provide intentional and adequate support to help them increase their chance of success when coming home.

For these reasons, RISE supports LB1154 and asks that committee members vote this bill out of committee to General File.


Jasmine L. Harris, MPH, CHES
Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, RISE