A disturbance at the Tecumseh state prison in which two inmates were killed at the hands of fellow inmates has greatly disturbed the legislature.
Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, who has Tecumseh in his district, takes to the legislative floor to tell fellow lawmakers this incident isn’t the same as the 2015 riot in which two inmates died as well.
“But, I think we have learned from that incident. We are better today,” Watermeier tells colleagues. “And think about what happened yesterday. At one o’clock in the afternoon there was an incident. The staff acted according to the new protocols, the new training. No staff was injured. Public safety was never at risk.”
A full-blown riot at Tecumseh on Mother’s Day 2015 left two inmates dead and the prison badly damaged.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha says the deaths at the prison Thursday reflects poorly on State Corrections Director Scott Frakes and the entire Ricketts Administration.
“So, I am going to be looking at Mr. Frakes’ apparent incompetency in operating the prison system,” Chambers says. “The governor who sits in the office now and the previous governor had indicated that the overcrowding is manageable. Since those comments were made, a number of inmates have been killed.”
Chambers also suggests Watermeier hold off on his rosy assessment until the investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol is complete.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln rejects the Department of Correctional Services claim that the public was never at risk. He tells fellow lawmakers that any time two people are killed in one of the state’s institution, the public is at risk.
“So, for the department to say that the public safety was not at risk is untrue and disingenuous and to also note that this is simply a minor disturbance and not a riot is untrue,” Morfeld tells colleagues. “The definition of a riot is a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd. How can what happened yesterday be described as anything but a riot?”
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this story.