- Associated Press - Monday, March 26, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have advanced a bill designed to shield jail inmates from having to pay excessive charges to make phone or video calls while incarcerated.

The measure won first-round approval on Monday on a 28-2 vote.

Sen. John McCollister, of Omaha, says allowing inmates to stay connected with friends and family leads to lower rates of recidivism, which could help ease Nebraska’s prison overcrowding. The measure would allow inmates to communicate with their lawyers at no cost.

It also would prevent cities or counties from profiting in excess from monopoly phone contracts with prisons.

No one spoke in opposition to the measure Monday.

Two additional votes are required before it goes to Gov. Pete Ricketts.

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