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Nebraska Supreme Court Says Revocation of Post-Release Supervision Does Not Bar Prisoner From Earning Good Time Credit

by David M. Reutter

On April 28, 2022, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that a lower state court erred in denying good time credit when resentencing a state prisoner who had violated the terms of his post-release supervision (PRS).

The Court’s opinion was issued in an appeal by Joshua J. Knight, who was initially sentenced to a one-year term in state prison followed by 18 months of PRS. Ten months into his PRS, it was alleged — and Knight conceded — that he violated its terms. The trial court then resentenced him to nine months in the Buffalo County Jail, giving him credit for 27 days of time actually served; but it found he did “not qualify for good time credit” and ordered he serve the remaining 243 days of his sentence in jail.

Knight appealed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, but the Nebraska Supreme Court moved the case to its docket. Knight’s sole argument was that the sentencing court abused its discretion by finding he did not qualify for good time credit because that violated Neb. Rev. Stat. § 47-502. That statute requires that a person sentenced to a city or county jail “in response to a parole or probation violation, shall, after the fifteenth day of his or her confinement, have his or her remaining term reduced one day for each day of his or her sentence or sanction during which he or she has not committed any breach of discipline or other violation of jail regulations.”

The State agreed with Knight, noting its research did not uncover any statutory or case-law authority to support the sentencing court’s order. The Nebraska Supreme Court likewise found no authority for denying Knight good time credit. “Therefore, that portion of the court’s sentence was contrary to law and constituted an abuse of discretion,” the Court decided.

Because § 47-502 requires the award of those credits, the Court said that “unless another statute provides otherwise, where an offender is originally sentenced to [PRS] and is later resentenced to confinement in a county jail following revocation of [PRS], the offender is entitled to good time reduction of his or her county jail sentence.”

As such, that portion of the order was vacated and the case remanded to the trial court to recalculate Knight’s sentence. Knight was represented in his appeal by Buffalo County Public Defender D. Brandon Brinegar. See: State v. Knight, 311 Neb. 485 (2022). 

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Related legal case

State v. Knight