State lawmakers have approved a special committee to continue the legislature’s oversight of the Department of Correctional Services.
Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, who has the Tecumseh state prison in his district, believes Corrections has made strides.
“But the public trust really is at odds with Corrections right now,” Watermeier tells colleagues. “They’re concerned what’s going on and we need to be concerned about what’s going on in there.”
The Nebraska Justice System Special Oversight Committee will be the third such committee formed by the Unicameral since 2014.
Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill sees it as detrimental to Corrections’ mission.
“We will be taking time and resources from the Department of Corrections that should be spent on implementing the things that we’ve already put in place,” Larson argues during legislative floor debate.
Lawmakers approve creation of the committee on a 28-11 vote.
Legislators have been wrestling with a variety of problems, most centering on the state prison system. Conditions have become crowded enough that some outside groups have threatened to file a lawsuit against the state.
The Tecumseh prison was rocked on Mother’s Day two years ago when a riot broke out that left two inmates dead. A disturbance earlier this year also left two inmates dead. Last month, a prisoner at Tecumseh turned on his cellmate and killed him.
The Ricketts Administration has opposed formation of a new oversight committee.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]