Omaha Mayor wants end to furloughs for violent offenders

Jan 8, 2013

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle wants violent offenders to be excluded from a state furlough program for inmates.

Mayor Suttle says he’s working with State Senators from Omaha to craft legislation that’ll remove inmates serving time for gun crimes from furlough eligibility.

Last September, two Omaha Police officers shot and killed Jermaine Lucas, who was serving 5 to 8 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a weapon. Lucas was a known gang member. Authorities say he was armed, and was on a furlough from the Community Corrections Center of Lincoln.

Suttle says inmates such as Lucas shouldn’t be allowed to take furloughs. “The argument I keep hearing is, well, it helps us keep the peace and tranquility inside the prison when we reward good behavior. Putting violent people back out on the streets where they’re using guns to kill and to create havoc in our community is not keeping our community safe and it’s not cost effective, so why are you doing this?”

Lucas was on his 11th furlough from the Corrections Center at the time of the shooting.

Suttle says he isn’t opposed to furloughs for nonviolent offenders. The Mayor says he’s spoken with 15 State Senators, who’ve expressed interest in the legislation. The Nebraska Legislature returns to session Wednesday.