State Corrections Director Scott Frakes insists Corrections is heading in the right direction and pledges to better communicate his vision with lawmakers and the public.
Frakes faults himself for what he sees as a misunderstanding of his strategic plan for the Department of Correctional Services.
“Probably the lesson learned is it was built much more as a guiding tool for my department and not written as well to the external stakeholders that need to understand it as well,” Frakes tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview in his office.
Frakes had a rough week before legislators. Though he wanted to walk lawmakers through his strategic plan, Frakes found himself answering some pointed questions during hearings held by the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee created through LR 34 two weeks ago. A few legislators openly questioned whether he was the breath of fresh air they had hope he would be when appointed the position by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
In wake of those sometimes brutal legislative hearings, Frakes plans to reach out to state senators and to assure the public that recent bad news doesn’t define the department.
“You begin to get that perception that no one thinks you can do the job, that belief that everyone thinks that you’re incapable of doing the job,” Frakes says. “And nothing could be further from the truth for my staff.”
Frakes insists his strategic plan contains specific outcomes to chart whether the department is on the right course. There is a process contained in the plan, according to Frakes, that will use data to drive performance. Eventually, wardens at the various prisons will establish their own specific goals and outcomes.
Frakes says the last couple of years have worn hard on his staff.
Much attention from the legislature and the public has focused on the Mother’s Day riot at the Tecumseh prison which led to the death of two inmates during the chaos. Other inmates and guards suffered injuries.
As for the Tecumseh prison riot, Frakes says it discloses the ‘contain and control’ culture he hopes to change.
“The more focus that we have on containment and control the less opportunity we have to give people opportunities to change,” according to Frakes. “So, in that respect, I think Tecumseh is an example of one of the challenges in this department.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]