While Nebraska has had an unfortunate number of mass murders, the Simants case in particular garnered national attention and drew prominently upon the expertise of forensic psychologists. Insanity defenses had rarely been used in Nebraska at the time of the 1975 murders. On his second trial, Simants was found innocent by reason of insanity and confined to the forensic unit at the Lincoln Regional Center.
The judge initially sought to bar the press from a preliminary hearing, and the US Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision affirming the First Amendment rights of the press. The case drew attention again in 2013 when forensic psychologists determined that he was no longer mentally ill and could be released.
According to Omaha.com, about one third of the state’s prison population was classified as mentally ill in 2014. In contrast to Simants, many of these individuals are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes such as trespassing and littering. Douglas County started its Mental Health Diversion (MHD) Program to place individuals with a serious mental illness in treatment in the community. With the help of forensic psychologists, they have been able to divert a number of inmates from jail to successful reenter the community.
Salaries for Forensic Psychologists in Nebraska
Forensic psychologists in Nebraska combine their psychological and legal expertise to earn high salaries while contributing to public safety. This field is growing, and the Nebraska Department of Labor predicts that the number of forensic psychologists in the state will increase by 1% a year between 2010 and 2020. The increase in the number of jobs for forensic psychologists in the Lincoln metropolitan area is expected to be even higher. The number of these positions is expected to grow by 1.3% during this time frame.
The Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL) provides salary information for forensic psychologists from 2015. Experienced professionals earned an average of $73,861 a year, while the median salary was $69,903. The average entry-level salary for a forensic psychologist in Nebraska was $45,522.
The DOL reported that the median salary varied substantially between different workforce regions in the state in 2015:
- Greater Nebraska: $67,238
- Lincoln: $67,041
- Omaha: $56,874
Forensic Psychologist Salaries Throughout Nebraska
Shown below for comparative purposes are salaries for forensic psychologists throughout Nebraska (US Department of Labor, 2014):