State Corrections Director Scott Frakes has made his pitch, asking the legislature for more staff, more services, and millions for a prison upgrade.
Frakes wants to add more than 164 people, mostly corrections officers, $700,000 for more inmate programs, and extra, specialized bed space for seriously ill and aging inmates.
“I consider this budget to be substantial. It is a budget that addresses many of our needs, not all of our needs,” Frakes tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview.
Frakes says his proposal to the legislature would allow the Department of Correctional Services to move forward and provide him the resources he could use within the biennium.
The budget submission to the Unicameral is a first for Frakes, who has been with the state for about a year and a half, taking over the Nebraska prison system after years of work in Corrections in the state of Washington. He did submit a $14 million mid-biennium budget request during the 2016 legislative session.
Frakes briefed legislators about his budget proposal earlier.
The budget proposal is consistent with a staff analysis done of the department, according to Frakes, who says it also follows the master plan for the department to provide programming to help inmates prepare for life after prison.
Adding staff to the Nebraska prison system could be tricky. Frakes seeks to fill 125 vacancies even as he adds 138 prison employees over the next three years.
“It is ambitious,” Frakes says. “There’s no doubt about it.”
The capital request made by Frakes totals $75 million. It would be used to combine the Lincoln Correctional Center with the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center into a new prison.
“That is, again, a large and ambitious project, especially for an agency that really hasn’t built anything of significance in some 14-15 years,” Frakes says.
Frakes says the $700,000 request for programming would provide well-tested prison programs that help prepare inmates for life after they serve their sentence. It would pay for programming and the staff needed to insure the programming is carried out effectively.
In total, Frakes is asking for a $37.8 million budget in Fiscal Year 2018, with $4.8M coming from General Funds and $53.9M for FY19, $15.3M of General Funds, adding 83.5 staff positions in FY18 and 164.5 in FY19.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]
Here are the highlights of the budget proposal as presented by the Department of Correctional Services:
ENDING COUNTY JAIL PROGRAM
PROTECTIVE SERVICES STAFF
FY18: 48 FTE Protective Services
· Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC): 14 Sergeants, 30 Corporals
· Diagnostic and Evaluation Center (DEC): 1 Sergeant and 3 Corporals
FY19: 48 FTE Protective Services
· Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP): 8 Sergeants, 17 Corporals
· Omaha Correctional Center (OCC): 20 Corporals
· Tecumseh State Correction Institution (TSCI): 3 Sergeants
*Protective Services staff requests for both FY18 and 19 are budgeted to phase in at 12 FTE per quarter. This pace is an achievable goal based on current efforts to improve NDCS retention rates for current staff openings. NDCS is addressing staff retention by improving staff safety, staff culture, internal communications, as well as providing retention bonuses, additional training resources, and working with the State Employee Union to increase staff salaries and performance pay opportunities.
· 1.5 FTE to provide education services at OCC and TSCI
· 7 FTE to support Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Programing: Clinical Program Manager, Clinical Program Support, Classification Administrator, Volunteer Programs Administrator, Grant/Technical Writer, 2 Quality Assurance Coordinators
HEALTH SERVICES STAFF
· 8 FTE to meet the Community Standard of Care: 1 LPN, 4 RNs, 1 Nurse Supervisor, 2 Medical Technologists
OTHER CRITICAL STAFF
· 7 FTE to meet workload demands: Food Service Specialists, Facility Maintenance Specialists, Training Specialist, Intelligence Administrator, and Grievance Coordinator.
· 7 FTE to establish a transportation unit
· 1 FTE: Furniture Shop Supervisor
· CCCL Expansion -160-bed female unit
· TSCI Expansion – increase space and inmate jobs in industries
· Reception and Treatment Center – 32-bed skilled nursing facility for acute and serious medical needs and a 32-bed secure behavioral health unit for individuals with serious behavioral health needs.
· Program 914- to supplement infrastructure needs
· Mobile radios for vans
· Database systems for health services, restrictive housing, reporting systems, mainframe system conversion