Gov. Pete Ricketts has announced proposed cuts to the state budget. One of the departments spared is Corrections.
Ricketts has asked legislators to make cuts to many state agencies, but the Department of Correctional Services is not one of those.
“Corrections is one of the areas we’re going to need to continue to make investments in,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’ve made a lot of investments already and Scott Frakes, our director there, has made tremendous progress in addressing things, such as the culture there.”
The Unicameral, in 2015, approved Legislative Bill 605 designed to address a number of issues in the Department of Correctional Services, with a specific goal of reducing the prison population. Under Nebraska law, an emergency can be declared once the prisons reach 140% of designed capacity. That declaration becomes mandatory in 2020 and could trigger the possible release of inmates.
Ricketts hopes to avoid any forced release of prisoners.
“So, there are thing that we’re going to have to do with regard to Corrections to get us on that path,” Ricketts says. “So, I think it’s still too early to see what the effects of LB 605 will be, but we know that some of the things to make those work, we still have work to do.”
Not only is the governor holding the Department of Correctional Services off-limits to budget cuts, he backs Corrections Director Frakes’ request for capital improvements totaling $75 million. Money would go to expanding prison capacity as well as offering programming to inmates in an effort to keep them from returning to prison after they are released.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]