OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — State Senator Terrell McKinney is getting feedback from his constituents to take back to Lincoln next month when the legislative sessions begins, specifically on prison reform and how funds from the American Rescue Plan Act should be used.
"I think it’s good to engage with the community and get their perspective on issues and not just going into a room, thinking I know everything," McKinney said.
On Thursday night he partnered with Black Votes Matter to host a town hall in North Omaha.
Several individuals in the crowd shared the senator's desire to not see another prison built, and they are concerned about the current state of the state penitentiary.
"It’s still a bad situation with the overcrowding and the staffing crisis," McKinney said. "It’s something we really need to address.”
He’s working with the Crime and Justice Institute Task Force to brainstorm ways they can fix these problems.
McKinney says he wants to stay optimistic about the recommendations that could potentially be picked up as bills for the legislature to consider.
He also wants to break down some of the barriers to reentering the community for those in prison, and believes they reduce crime in the first place by investing more in the community.
One resource the state has is money from the American Rescue Plan Act.
"I want to use it to improve the conditions in North Omaha," McKinney said. "Looking at small business and entrepreneurship growth. How to address affordable housing in a meaningful way. How to help existing community groups, help them become more sustainable. And really just try to find ways to decrease the amount of poverty that is in this area.”
He’s working with Senator Justin Wayne to create a plan for that money and plans to bring their ideas to the community.