- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska advocacy group has called on the state prison system to bulk up its inmate educational programs to better prepare inmates for jobs and prevent further crimes.

The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1lZwMRl ) reports that Lincoln-based Nebraska Appleseed released a report Wednesday urging the state to increase funding for the corrections department’s vocational and life skills training program. The report did applaud the department for reviving the vocational program.

James Goddard, a co-author of the report, said that it makes sense to better prepare inmates with job skills because more than 90 percent of them will return to society and Nebraska has a worker shortage.

The report says that of the 5,348 inmates in Nebraska’s correctional system, nearly 2,100 do not have a high school degree. It also says that the State Penitentiary in Lincoln has a waiting list of 80 inmates for educational classes and that 30 inmates are on waiting lists at correctional centers in Omaha and Lincoln.

“We have some good programming in place, but the need outstrips the resources,” Goddard said

The group made recommendations, including better use of federal funds to finance education programs, eliminating waiting lists for Adult Basic Education and GED classes, making college courses more accessible. The report noted that female inmates cannot take college courses and offerings for male inmates are limited.

Dawn-Renee Smith with the corrections department said that it has not fully reviewed the report, but the agency is already moving forward on some suggestions.

She said that the department is launching a partnership with York College to provide more courses for female inmates, and to increase access to computers for inmates without risking security.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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