The Flatwater Free Press and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications sponsored “Nebraska’s Prisons at a Crossroads”, a forum that discussed Nebraska’s Corrections Department on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
Panelists spoke on their experiences with the Nebraska prison system and offered potential solutions to prevalent issues in the system. The panel was moderated by Flatwater Free Press reporter Natalia Alamdari who has spent a year reporting on the most crowded prisons in the nation.
The following were members of the panel:
Mark Foxall, Community Service Associate, UNO School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Foxall joined the staff at the Douglas County Department of Corrections in 2000 and began serving as their director in 2011, a post he held until his retirement in 2018. Prior to that, he served as a police officer with the Omaha Police Department and as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. He has won numerous awards including an Excellence in Public Service award from the University of Nebraska Omaha; a Director's Award for Outstanding Contributions in Law Enforcement from the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Department of Justice; and the Administrative Award of Merit, American Correctional Association, Douglas County Department of Corrections.
Jasmine Harris, Director of Policy and Public Advocacy, RISE
At RISE, Jasmine Harris’s overall goal is to help reduce the population of incarcerated individuals and eliminate the barriers people endure upon returning home after incarceration in Nebraska. RISE is the largest nonprofit organization in Nebraska focused solely on helping the incarcerated prepare for reentering society. As the Director of Policy and Public Advocacy, Jasmine builds relationships with partners, policymakers and community members across Nebraska. Previously, Jasmine served as Co-Founder/CEO of WayMaker, LLC, an organization that motivates women and girls to overcome setbacks from being involved in the criminal justice system. She also served as a Health Educator at Creighton University and as Civic Engagement Committee Chair for the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals, where she focused on advocacy and awareness around criminal justice issues.
Doug Koebernick, Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System
As the Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System, Doug Koebernick identifies and examines systemic issues of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. He and his team also investigate incidents resulting in death or serious injury that occur within the Nebraska correctional system. The Office of the Inspector General was established in 2015 by the Nebraska Legislature to provide increased accountability and oversight of the Nebraska correctional system.
Carla Walker, Formerly incarcerated military veteran and RISE Board Ambassador
Carla is a military veteran who served a 15-20 prison sentence in York and at Lincoln's Work Release Center. She is an advocate for civilian and Justice Impacted veterans. Carla connects peers to various resources to encourage successful reentry opportunities.
After the panel, participants were invited to ask questions and engage in a moderated discussion. CoJMC students and members of the community asked questions about the future of Nebraska's prisons. See a recording of the forum below.