Governor Dave Heineman says state government is moving forward to restore trust after the prison sentence miscalculation scandal.
The Department of Correctional Services released the investigation of the scandal by the Lincoln law firm Jackson Lewis. A failure to follow a state Supreme Court decision led to the premature release of hundreds of state inmates.
Heineman insists he is fulfilling his promise in wake of the problem, including releasing the report.
“Our focus has been, we were going to hold those responsible accountable,” Heineman tells reporters. “We did that. Two people no longer work for state government. Two have been suspended without pay. There’s a criminal investigation underway and I’ll leave that to the State Patrol and the prosecutors. Third, we said we’d correct the mistakes. We’ve gone in and we’ve done that. We’ve instituted new procedures.”
The Jackson Lewis report places the most blame on George Green, the former top lawyer for Corrections. He retired rather than be fired.
Also found at fault were records administrator Kyle Poppert, who was suspended; attorney Kathy Blum, who also was suspended; and attorney Sharon Lundgren, who retired. Records Manager Jeannene Douglass also was found at fault. She retired earlier.
The report exonerated former state Corrections Director Bob Houston, director at the time of the miscalculations.
Heineman says new state Corrections Director Michael Kenney has a tough job ahead.
“Again, I’ve had many conversation with Director Kenney about how we are going to go forward,” Heineman says. “Once you face one of these challenges, you’ve got to correct the situation, move forward, and improve it in a manner that hopefully it won’t be repeated again. But there’s some personal accountability here that’s inexcusable.”
Heineman says his office had plenty of communication with Houston during the period when the department miscalculated the sentences. But Heineman adds that politicians should always have limited input in how the Nebraska State Patrol and the Department of Correctional Services do their jobs.
“In these two agencies you’ve got to count on the professionals, because managing those prisons and doing law enforcement activities is very important and very sacred in our state.”
The report says the five employees named violated state personnel rules.