Gov. Dave Heineman said today he will testify before the special legislative committee investigating the prison sentence miscalculation scandal.
The governor’s remarks came hours after the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigating Committee voted unanimously to subpoena the governor to testify before the committee October 29th.
The special legislative committee first formed to investigate why Nikko Jenkins was released from prison rather than civilly committed. Jenkins killed four in Omaha upon his released last year.
It since has followed up reports first published by the Omaha World-Herald that Corrections officials released hundreds of inmates prematurely, because it ignored two state Supreme Court rulings.
During a meeting with reporters at his Capitol office, Gov. Heineman denied he attended a meeting in which Corrections Director Mike Kenney created a program to allow eight inmates released early to serve the remainder of their sentences at home rather than behind bars. A July 31st memo by former Corrections General Counsel George Green indicates the governor was at the meeting when Kenney proposed the alternative sentencing program.
“No, I’ve never been in a meeting regarding that and Director Kenney indicated this was something he created, he invented,” Heineman told reporters.
The Corrections Director pushed forward with the program, though attorneys with the department questioned its legality.
Heineman said he never considered invoking executive privilege against the subpoena issued by the legislative committee. He suggested he might request the committee withdraw the subpoena and allow him to come to the hearing voluntarily.
“But I’m going to be there one way or another on October 29th, because I look forward to these discussions that we need to have on these issues,” Heineman said.
Heineman also rejects suggestions he pushed for Corrections to release prisoners early to ease prison overcrowding.
“Absolutely not,” Heineman said. “I’ve always said they’re two separate issues. The bad guys need to be in prison no matter what.”
The Department of Correctional Services ignored two state Supreme Court rulings, releasing 200 inmates early and setting early release dates for 550 others. The governor’s office and Corrections officials reported 306 inmates were released prematurely by the department. Many inmates received credit for time served in the community without incident.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]