Attacks on prison corrections officers and staff are more frequent and violent in recent months. There is a staff shortage and Governor Pete Ricketts says vacancies can be filled but first changes need to be made with the union contract. Mike Marvin is the executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees and says there was a miscommunication between Governor Ricketts’ office but that has been corrected and they are ready to sit down at the table and get to work.
Marvin says there are three things to reduce the number of attacks on staff. He says there has been a staff shortage for twelve years and levels need to increase. To reduce the high turnover rate and attract good candidates the pay issue also needs to be addressed.
Marvin says, “We are looking at something at our best that would be consistent with Douglas County and Lancaster County. Put that on the table we think would be attractive to people and to retain people. The cost for all the corrections officers, the case workers and case managers would cost about $14-million a year.”
The third thing is to hold the inmates responsible for their action. Marvin says, “When inmates assault staff they need to be dealt with in a quick manner and not just brushed under the rug. They need to be charged. Simply taking good time away from then now and restoring it later doesn’t work. We have to have some punishment for these people who assault our officers while on duty.”
Marvin says the violence isn’t isolated to correction facilities. He says it reaches out into the youth facilities and the regional centers. Those workers are also part of protective services and keep the community and state safe as well. They too are under constant attack. Marvin says, “For a while at the Kearney YRTC with about 100 kids, the attack rate on staff was higher than anywhere else. We have this issue that extends to all of our safety and security people who are taking care of inmates or people committed by the courts. The same night that nine were assaulted at the LCC, a staff at the Kearney YRTC was stabbed with a broken broom handle.” He says all of these issues need to be addressed and dealt with.