Gov. Pete Ricketts says a recent report on the deadly disturbance at the Tecumseh state prison only emphasizes the state must adjust management practices to meet changing problems in the state prison system.
A national review team concluded confiscation of homemade alcohol triggered a deadly uprising by Tecumseh prison inmates March 2nd which left two dead at the hands of fellow prisoners.
Ricketts says he has been briefed on the report.
“It just demonstrates that we’ve got to be vigilant with regard to the inmates and continue to manage the situation as it develops,” Ricketts tells reporters. “So for example, as the inmates do new things, we have to change our management practices to be able to adjust.”
A number of changes are being made at Tecumseh in wake of the report by personnel associated with the National Institute of Corrections.
Fresh fruit has been removed from the menu at Tecumseh. Other foodstuffs used to make alcohol are being restricted in wake of the review.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services reports the disturbance in early March began after officers found a large quantity of homemade alcohol and confiscated it. Officials report approximately 150 pounds of homemade alcohol was found in three 3-cubic-foot foot lockers.
The confiscation of the alcohol combined with an allegation that an officer had assaulted an inmate triggered the uprising. About 60 prisoners set fires and damaged the housing unit after threatened staff members assessed they were outmanned and retreated from the 64-bed housing unit.
Two inmates, 31-year-old Michael Galindo and 39-year-old Damon Fitzgerald, were killed by fellow inmates.
Aside from removing the means to make alcohol, other steps are being taken such as the creation of a closed management unit which will greatly restrict the movement of inmates determined to be more dangerous than most. Penalties have also been increased for inmates caught making homemade alcohol.
Ricketts has faith State Corrections Director Scott Frakes is on top of the situation.
“He has over 30 years’ experience in this. He knows where we need to go in our system, what the end-goal is, how we need to manage the system,” according to Ricketts. “We’ve got a lot of work (to do) to change the culture there, but he’s the right man to do it.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]