In response to crime concerns during the 1980s and 1990s, Nebraska adopted a tough approach to crime by enacting truth-in-sentencing, limits to early release and mandatory minimum sentences.
By 2000, as a result of these policies, Nebraska faced a severe prison overcrowding crisis with mounting incarceration costs. In response to this crisis, the legislature in 2003 enacted the Community Corrections Act, which established the Community Corrections Council (Council) as the entity responsible for overseeing the development and advancement of community corrections for the state.
Since its inception, the Council has made significant strides. In 2007, the Council supported the development of several new community corrections programs, including the Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision (SSAS) program. SSAS was designed to divert appropriate offenders from prison to the community and provide evidence-based services to parolees. Operated by the Office of Probation Administration, SSAS is currently being piloted in five sites across the state. The program seeks to break the relationship between drug abuse and crime through treatment, life skills training and intensive monitoring by specially trained probation officers.
In 2009, in order to assess the fidelity of SSAS, and determine whether it has effectively diverted offenders from prison, researchers from the Vera Institute of Justice conducted a process evaluation of the program. The report found that the program has been implemented with a high-level of fidelity and, importantly, that it has been effective in diverting offenders who, absent the program, would have been sent to prison.