Gov. Pete Ricketts says he and Corrections Director Scott Frakes have focused on reducing the turnover rate.
“And it is down, year over year and so we’re pleased with that,” Ricketts tells reporters. “As Dir. Frakes mentioned, we still have more work to do in regard to that. It’s not where we want it to be, but we are making progress.”
The Department of Correctional Services reports staff turnover at the department fell to just under 24% last year, a 14% decrease. The turnover rate for protective services dropped to under 31%, a 9% improvement.
In a news release, Frakes stated reducing the turnover rate was one of his top priorities since becoming director in 2015. He credits pay increases, bonuses for referrals and commuting as well as for professional development. Frakes says an emphasis on staff safety led to an 87% reduction in assaults against staff which caused serious injuries.
Some prisons saw big improvements in turnover rate.
At Community Corrections Center-Lincoln, the turnover rate for protective services turnover dropped to 10%; at the Work Ethic Camp turnover dropped to 11%.
The Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln experienced a 21% reduction in protective services turnover, dropping to just over 30%.
Ricketts concedes Tecumseh’s remote location hurts recruitment and retention, but he says the prison’s history of violence is being addressed.
“Well, I think if you look at one of the things we also announced is that the serious injuries due to assaults on staff is also down about 87%,” Ricketts points out. “So, we are seeing progress in that area as well.”
Corrections officials say even though progress has been made, the turnover rate is still twice as high as it should be.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]