“More assaults and riots since Ricketts became governor than the last 30 years combined.”
TECUMSEH, NE – At a news conference today outside the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, Sen. Bob Krist called on Gov. Ricketts to immediately terminate Scott Frakes as director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
“We’ve been more than patient waiting for Gov. Ricketts and his handpicked director to show leadership with the failing Nebraska prison system. Ricketts and Frakes have presided over a prison system that continues to spiral out of control placing workers and ultimately the public in grave danger. We've seen more assaults and riots in our prisons in the last four years since Pete Ricketts became governor than we have over the last 30 years combined. Ricketts hired Director Frakes; now he has a responsibility to fire him,” Krist said.
“This isn’t about election-year politics. This is, above all, an issue of public safety. When I was in the Air Force, you quickly learned that you were responsible for failures under your watch. The Governor has a responsibility to keep prison workers safe. Hard working men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and work with inmates to rehabilitate and re-enter society,” he said.
“I’m proud today to announce that the union representing those workers has endorsed us — the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, NAPE/AFSCME Local 61. Here’s what their executive director, John Antonich, said:
'NAPE/AFSCME Local 61 is proud to endorse Bob Krist for Governor. We stand behind Bob Krist because we think he has the experience to understand the issues our members are facing every day, in our corrections institutions and all of the other state agencies we represent, and that he has ideas and the guts to get to work and start solving these problems,' Antonich said.
'We are encouraged by the kind of leadership that Bob Krist and Lynne Walz would bring to the table and look forward to the opportunity to sit with them and find common ground about how we can address the issues of worker safety, worker retention and other facets that are important to our members,' Antonich said.
“Workers in these facilities are at risk every day, due to the overcrowding issues as well as the conditions and hours they are asked to work. In 2015, Ricketts' first year in office, Nebraska had the fourth worst overcrowding problem in the country. Today, Nebraska has the second worst overcrowding problem. Under Ricketts and Frakes, it has only gotten worse. Prison overcrowding is at 155 percent of capacity,” Krist said.
“The average daily population of inmates in 2017 was 5,343 inmates, where design capacity of the facilities according to the Department is 3,435 inmates. This means that the facilities are holding 1,908 inmates more than they are designed for,” he said.
“Recent court rulings mandate that prison workers can only work 8-hour shifts, but many are still regularly working 16-hour shifts. The amount of money spent on overtime for protective services employees has increased from $3.3 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11 to nearly $9.3 million in Fiscal Year 2016-17,” Krist said.
“The average amount of overtime throughout Nebraska Department of Correctional Services per month increased to 33,202 hours for protective services employees in 2017 — an increase in the use of overtime by 50.5% since 2014, the year before Ricketts took office. One employee worked an extra 2,888 hours of overtime in one year, which means they averaged over 90 hours per week for the entire year,” Krist noted.
“Finally, let me point out probably the most alarming safety issue — the safety of our communities and the public in general. Because of the overcrowding that Ricketts and Frakes have not been able to solve, we are now facing the very likely situation that the federal government will come in and force us to release hundreds of prisoners back into our communities before they are ready,” Krist said.
“When the federal government intervenes to address this issue, this means hundreds of prisoners would be put on your streets due to Pete Ricketts and Scott Frakes inability to address these issues. These are problems that Pete Ricketts has not solved, has done little to address, and frankly doesn't seem to understand. It’s time for new leadership,” Krist said.
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