LINCOLN — Nebraska prison officials are moving forward with planning for two construction projects, as well as an update of the agency’s master plan.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services recently advertised for bids from consultants to guide construction of a 96-bed expansion at the Lincoln Correctional Center/Diagnostic Evaluation Center campus, according to a press release. The beds will be designated for mental health, older incarcerated individuals or other special-needs populations.
Construction is already underway on a connection between the LCC and DEC that will add nearly 450 beds.
The department has also issued a request for proposals for the siting and design work of a proposed 1,512-bed prison to replace the aging Nebraska State Penitentiary. The new prison, expected to cost $230 million, was proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts last year, but state lawmakers opted to study the need for a new prison before giving a final OK to the new facility, which would be one of the most expensive construction projects in state history.
“This will allow NDCS to identify a consultant who will be responsible for designing the facility, helping to locate a site on which to build, and managing various aspects of construction,” said Scott Frakes, state corrections director.
He added that a suitable location must be close to utilities and services, while providing adequate workforce for a large prison.
Corrections is also working with Dewberry and Carlson West Povondra Architects to launch an update of the agency’s master plan, last updated in 2014. That project could begin in 90 days and will update the agency’s projections of future bed space needs.
Nebraska’s prison system has struggled with overcrowding for more than a decade and at one point held 2,100 more inmates than the design capacity of its 10 prisons.
Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.