Gov. Pete Ricketts remains supportive of the Department of Correctional Services even as the investigation continues into the deadly takeover of a housing unit in the Tecumseh prison earlier this month.
Ricketts says lessons learned in the Mother’s Day riot at Tecumseh in 2015 were put into practice in response to the disturbance on the 2nd. Still, two inmates died and troubling questions about Corrections re-emerged.
Ricketts insists things have improved.
“We have been making tremendous strides and this is something that has been a three-branch effort with regard to justice reform,” Ricketts tells Nebraska reporters.
Ricketts points out state legislators approve sentence guidelines aimed at reducing the number of people going to prison. More money is being invested in programs to prepare prisoners for life after prison. Lawmakers also have approved $26 million to renovate the Community Corrections Center in Lincoln.
“So, we know that this is an organization that has been underinvested in for years and changing the culture there and changing the physical plant is not something that is going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time to do that,” according to Ricketts. “We made tremendous progress in a number of different areas and so I’m confident that we’re making progress with regard to how we reform our Corrections system.”
An investigation of the incident of the incident is underway by the Nebraska State Patrol.
Ricketts declines to directly address a threat by the ACLU to file a lawsuit against the state over prison conditions, including prison overcrowding. The ACLU has held off on filing a lawsuit in the past after lawmakers promised to work to improve prison conditions.
Editor’s note: Gov. Ricketts made these comments prior to the disruption that injured four staff members at the Tecumseh prison Wednesday.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]