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Chairperson Sen. Brewer and Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Members
District #43, Room 1423 State Capitol
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509

February 3, 2022

RE: LB709

Dear Senator Brewer and Government, Military and Veterans Affairs 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 LB709.

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 thank Senator McCollister for the interim hearing, introducing legislation on this important topic and now designating this as his priority bill this session. We also thank Senator Ebke for her previous work in the legislature and continuous work at Platte Institute to eliminate another barrier that people coming out of incarceration experience.

We have 523 individuals that have graduated from our program offered in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with fifty-six individuals currently taking programming. There are approximately 134 of program participants released in the community that are receiving reentry services. We have an Employment Specialist working with our program participants and employers to decrease barriers to jobs. Our graduates are hired in several different industries that include the food industry, hospitality,

retail, manufacturing, construction and others. We have started our Business Academy, which was highlighted on KETV news last night, where individuals who have been impacted by the system can take a course that focuses on helping them develop their business plans, establish those businesses and connect with possible microloan opportunities.

What we do know is that employment is one of the biggest challenges that people deal with when coming out of incarceration. That is why we have dedicated resources to work on employment readiness, job placement and job creation through entrepreneurship. LB709 ensures that we are offering yet another tool that will help justice involved individuals move towards a meaningful career trajectory versus a job they took just to survive. As you heard from our Youth & Family Programs Coordinator, Alana, allowing for people to have a pathway for something they are passionate about without restricting them because of a decision they made (that in the long run has nothing to do with that career) is life changing. It provides hope.

For these reasons, RISE supports LB709 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