Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Promising Practices

Repurposing Segregation Units

Agency

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS)

Brief Summary

The Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC) is one of 10 NDCS facilities. Opened in 1979, LCC has a unique and challenging physical design consisting of five, two-level housing units that create a pentagon-style perimeter.   From the area connecting the housing units is a small, cramped, dark, poorly ventilated 16-cell segregation unit (aptly named The Control Unit – commonly referred to as “The Dungeon”). There is little to no programming space—which may have met corrections standards in the late 1970’s but is definitely contrary to our mission to transform restrictive housing in our agency today. Although originally designed as a general population unit, several years ago in direct response to the agency’s need for additional restrictive housing space.

The Goal

Close The Control Unit by reducing the LCC restrictive housing population.

The Process

The management team saw closing The Control Unit as an obvious win, as it would allow for the staffing of the entire unit to be redeployed to other areas of the facility. However, there was concern that some staff would see this as a loss, due to there being 16 less restrictive housing cells to house violent individuals.  The reduction of the facility restrictive housing population took several months of planning.  Staff were issued change-in-duty assignments and on April 17, 2017, the LCC Management Team announced that The Control Unit was officially closed.

The Solution

Repurposing an antiquated segregation unit to a much-needed program and secured storage area.

The Results

While The Control Unit has had to temporarily reopen on two separate occasions—following incidents where the need for immediate restrictive housing exceeded our reduced capacity—closing The Control Unit is symbolic of NDCS’ commitment to restrictive housing reform.

This Promising Practices section of the SAS Resource Center was developed as part of a collaborative effort with the Vera Institute of Justice, University of Michigan Law School, and Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights. We are also deeply grateful to the many leaders across the country who created and implemented each of the reforms cited throughout this section for their efforts to reduce the use of restrictive housing in prisons and jails across the country.

Please note that Vera and our partners do not specifically endorse the practices and policies included in this section. The Promising Practices section features segregation reforms being implemented in prisons and jails around the country. Our goal is to serve as a resource to other jail and prison systems interested in implementing similar practices and policies by highlighting those jurisdictions that report successful reforms.