State officials vow to get Tecumseh prison back to normal in the aftermath of a deadly riot more than a week ago and make improvements within the Department of Correctional Services.
With the closing of a prison door, Gov. Pete Ricketts led news media on a tour of Tecumseh prison Tuesday, viewing the destruction in Housing Unit 2, which inmates held temporarily in the uprising before staff subdued them.
“My reaction to seeing the damage inside only reinforces that these are dangerous, hardened criminals that are inside this facility and that we need to have facilities like this to protect the public safety,” Ricketts told reporters.
Ricketts promises improvements to Corrections to avoid a recurrence of a riot that left two guards injured, four inmates injured, and two dead, likely at the hands of fellow inmates.
Warden Brian Gage and new Corrections Director Scott Frakes walked with Ricketts, pointing to various damaged property left in wake of the riot Sunday, May 10th.
A large group of inmates gathered outside Housing Unit 1. Guards attempted to break up the gathering, but were attacked. Warning shots were fired from the guard tower in the middle of the Tecumseh prison yard, but inmates failed to disperse. A guard then shot and wounded one inmate. Another inmate suffered wounds from rubber bullets. Two inmates suffered injuries at the hands of other inmates.
All had to receive medical treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
As guards moved to regain control of the prison, they discovered two inmates dead, apparently killed by their fellow inmates.
Warden Brian Gage said the prison is slowly returning to normal.
“We want to insure that when we’re opening these different areas, or even back to visits, etc. that we have talked to our staff and make sure they’re involved, that they’re comfortable too with that,” Gage said. “And to include the safety of the other inmates that were not involved.”
Tecumseh remains on lockdown. Inmates housed in Unit 2 have been bunking with other inmates, three to a cell. Meal services is returning to normal, with two hot meals and one cold meal being served. Laundry service has returned. No visitation is being allowed, yet.
Clean-up continues in Housing Unit 2, heavily damaged by a fire set by the renegade inmates. It houses 128 inmates. The prison in total houses 960.
Corrections Director Frakes said he expects it to return to operation within 48 hours.
The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the riot as is a Critical Incident Review Team with help from the Attorney General’s office and the State Fire Marshal.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]