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Left: Dr. Wiener opened the seminar with a discussion on what is evidence-based policymaking. Center: Dr. Wiener and Judge Colborn. Right: Judge Colborn described how the Nebraska courts use evidence-based practices in probation to reduce recidivism. 

Criminal Justice Reform in the Midwest:
Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska 
A Congressional Seminar


Click here to watch a recording of the Congressional Seminar on SPSSI's YouTube channel.

Click here to view and/or download the slides.

Click here to view and/or download a copy of "Recidivism Rates for Nebraska Adult Probations: 2006 - 2012," which is a brief report summarizing recidivism rates in the years following implementation of evidence-based practices in Nebraska's probation program. 

Click here to view and/or download the event flyer.


On April 20, 2017, SPSSI hosted a Congressional Seminar on the topic of criminal justice reform and justice reinvestment, which featured presentations by SPSSI member and Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Richard L. Wiener and the Honorable Judge John A. Colborn. The event was attended by professionals from almost 30 House and Senate offices, three congressional committees, a diverse array of national associations (including the National District Attorneys Association, SEARCH: The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center), advocacy organizations (including the Coalition for Public Safety and the Children's Defense Fund), government agencies and offices (including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health), and other organizations (including the National Academy of Sciences and the Federal Judicial Center). 

SPSSI chose to focus a Congressional Seminar on this topic because in recent years we have witnessed increased interest in criminal justice reform in multiple state and federal jurisdictions from both the right and the left. The goals of these efforts have been to decrease recidivism, increase public safety, and improve offender reentry outcomes—all the while decreasing the cost of corrections. In conjunction with the Council of State Governments, the State of Nebraska has actively engaged in Justice Reinvestment to move forward in achieving these objectives.

In this seminar, Dr. Wiener and Judge Colborn shared the story of criminal justice reform in Nebraska. Dr. Wiener described this work from the point of view of the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive branches. The speakers also paid special attention to the way in which policy initiatives have brought about change in Nebraska and spoke to the resulting advances in risk assessment, evidence-based practice, and lower recidivism. 


Dr. Richard L. Wiener earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Houston and a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln Law School. Dr. Wiener is currently the Charles Bessey Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of Nebraska. He applies psychology to problems of legal decision-making and conducts research in the areas of program evaluation, policy analysis, and discrimination. Dr. Wiener also currently consults for the Nebraska Office of Probation Administration. The National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice have funded his work, allowing him to publish numerous research articles, edited volumes, book chapters, and law review articles. Dr. Wiener currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of SPSSI and is the organizer of the SPSSI Local Policy Initiative Project. In the past, he has also been an active member of the American Psychology and Law Society, serving as Secretary and editor of the flagship Journal, Law and Human Behavior.

The Honorable Judge John A. Colborn has served as the judge for the District Court of Nebraska in the Third Judicial District (Lancaster County) since 2000. Prior to becoming a judge, he served as the Chief Deputy County Attorney for Lancaster County. Judge Colborn received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, the Nebraska State Bar Foundation—where he is also a Fellow—and the Nebraska District Judges Association. He has also served on a number of Nebraska Supreme Court Committees, including the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Implementation Committee. Judge Colborn received the Nebraska Supreme Court’s 2015 Distinguished Judge for Improvement of the Judicial System award, which came on the heels of his recent contributions in the implementation of major reforms to the adult criminal justice system as mandated by the Legislature of Nebraska’s Legislative Bill 605.