Attorney General Jon Bruning rejects suggestions he lacked the objectivity to consider criminal charges in the prison sentence miscalculation scandal.
The charge comes from Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who asserted at a recent news conference Bruning should have appointed a special prosecutor in the prison sentence miscalculation case.
“In view of the fact that his office and members of his office were involved in some of the activities indicated that he could not show the objectivity which is necessary in a circumstance of this kind,” Chambers told reporters.
Bruning announced late last month no criminal charges would be filed against Corrections officials who miscalculated prison sentences, leading to the early release of hundreds of inmates.
Bruning found incompetence, but not criminal intent, on the part of officials at the Department of Correctional Services. He says the investigation reviewed everything, including the findings of a special legislative committee which Chambers served on.
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. No inmates remain at large.
The Omaha World Herald broke the story in a special investigative piece, which launched a number of investigations, including that of that special legislative committee which held numerous hearings at the Capitol.
The law firm Jackson Lewis did a review of the steps that led to the sentence miscalculations. Gov. Dave Heineman instructed the Nebraska State Patrol to investigate the possibility of criminal conduct.
NSP turned its findings over to Bruning and Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly, who evaluated the investigation independently.
Bruning rejected Chambers’ assertion his office was involved in the sentence miscalculation mess. And Bruning pointed out he and Kelly came to the same conclusion without consulting each other.
“I’m not going to abdicate my responsibilities as Attorney General to continue doing the job the people elected me to do just because Ernie’s got an opinion on who ought to be prosecuted and who shouldn’t,” Bruning responded when asked to comment on Chambers’ accusation. “We looked at it and we didn’t think charges were warranted and, frankly, it wasn’t that close of a call.”
Bruning suggested some legislators are trying to score political points in discussing the scandal.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]