Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, today called for Gov. Pete Ricketts to fire state Corrections Director Scott Frakes.
Krist, during a news conference outside the state prison in Tecumseh, said it was time for a change at the Department of Correctional Services.
“Today, I am calling for Gov. Ricketts to immediately terminate Scott Frakes as the director of the Department of Corrections,” Krist told reporters. “We’ve been more than patient waiting for Gov. Ricketts and for the director and they have shown no leadership in the way that they’ve handled corrections.”
Krist claimed Ricketts and Frakes have presided over a prison system that continues to spiral out of control. Krist said Frakes has stated there needs to be a culture change at the department, but hasn’t delivered. The candidate zeroed in on prison overcrowding during his criticism, pointing out Nebraska state prisons stand at 155% of designed capacity. If the prison population remains high, the governor might be forced to officially claim an emergency which could force the release of prisoners.
Krist stated he would prefer a director such as former Nebraska Corrections Director Bob Houston, though Houston retired in 2013 under a cloud. Krist claimed Houston was handcuffed in running the department by former Gov. Dave Heineman.
Ricketts rejected the call for Frakes’ head a ‘baldly political move,’ saying Corrections has made improvements under his leadership.
“We’ve got the right leader in Scott Frakes to manage all this,” Ricketts responded when asked about the comments by reporters. “He’s doing a fantastic job. We’re making the efforts to really take an organization that was under-invested and had to have a change in culture and we’re making that change.”
Ricketts said his administration is taking a three-prong attack to reduce prison overcrowding through sentencing reform, new programs designed to prepare inmates for release, and incentives to attract and retain employees.
Ricketts said Frakes has the experience to lead the improvements at the Department of Correctional Services.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]