Legislation Proposed to Change "Good Time" Law

OMAHA (KPTM)- Governor Dave Heineman andAttorney General Jon Bruning announced new legislation Monday that would requiresome inmates to earn reduced prison sentences instead of getting them automatically throughgood time credit.

"It is time to eliminate automatic 'good time' credit for the mostviolent inmates," said Gov. Heineman. "The safety of our citizens should bepriority number one and that starts with violent criminals being required toearn any reduction in their sentence, rather than automatically receiving it."

"Inmates should actively earn sentence reductions," said AttorneyGeneral Bruning. "This bill is the next step in our efforts to protectNebraskans."

The legislation will be introduced by State Senator ScottLautenbaugh of Omaha.

"The current 'good time' law has been in place for over twodecades without serious change," said State Sen. Lautenbaugh. "Given the recenthigh profile criminal events in the past year, I believe Nebraskans want andexpect the Legislature to change the current 'good time' law."

This "earned time" legislation would replace the current "goodtime" law. Under current law, inmates with the Nebraska Department ofCorrectional Services automatically have their sentenced reduced by half fortheir term of incarceration. Inmates get a day of good time for every dayserved.

The law would apply to inmates who commit the mostviolent crimes including murder, manslaughter, first degree assault,kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, escape, assault of an officer, assault bya confined person, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and similaroffenses committed after the bill would become law.

"Many Nebraskans are unaware of the automatic sentence reductionsunder 'good time.' They believe that when a judge sentences someone to 20 yearsthat means the person would serve 20 years, not 10 years, which is the realityunder current law. It's time to change the 'good time' to 'earned time' law."

Last month, Gov. Heinemansigned rules and regulations related to the Department of Correctional Servicesand the administration of "good time" credit. The new rule allows forcorrections officials to take away twice as much "good time" for misbehavior,including assaults on corrections officials and other prisoners. The newmaximum penalty allows for up to two years, instead of one year, of "good time"loss for inmates.