State lawmakers want action from the Ricketts Administration to insure Nebraska doesn’t see a recurrence of the prison escapes earlier this month from the Lincoln Correctional Center, but administration officials say they have addressed the problem.
A letter from 11 members of a special legislative committee calls for action immediately to address what they term a “troubling break in security.” The committee urged Gov. Pete Ricketts to use emergency funds to resolve the problem.
State Corrections Director Scott Frakes has said it appears staff didn’t follow procedure, leading to the escape of two inmates.
“So, again, I respect the legislature’s attention and efforts and their concern about my department and I am going to listen to what they have to say, but at the same time, I think we’re on the right path to address the issues,” Frakes told reporters during a recent news conference. “It is challenging times, there’s no question about that.”
Frakes said he expects to request more money for programming and staff during the next legislative session when the governor will submit and legislators will craft a new, biennium state budget.
For now, a team led by Virginia corrections officials will investigate what led to the escape of Armon Dixon and Timothy Clausen from the Lincoln Correctional Center earlier this month. Both have been captured and returned to prison.
Gov. Pete Ricketts stands by Frakes, insisting during a separate news conference that Frakes is asking the right questions about the escape and about how The Department of Correctional Services operates overall.
“Coming from the business world, I know throwing just money at a problem doesn’t solve it,” according to Ricketts. “We need to take a methodical approach to how we address it and we’ve got the right leader in the form of Scott Frakes to be able to do that.”
Both Ricketts and Frakes say pay could be an issue and they plan to address it in discussions with the union which represents corrections staff. Both, though, insist the biggest need at the department is a change in culture, which they say is well underway.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]