LINCOLN – Corrections Director Scott Frakes says department reforms are working despite nearly 10 years of under-funding and recent violent incidents in Nebraska prisons.
“We know a lot of the violence is orchestrated by people that aren’t actually doing the violence. That is where the Intelligence Network is helping us to identify who those people are. We continue to assess and study, and gain every bit of intelligence and information on the population that we can. We continue to take those that we can identify and place them in more restrictive settings, higher security settings.”
Frakes tells the press he has to work within the law and that most of the inmate information is confidential. He says improving technology, staff training and education, as well as increasing inmate programming are ways to better benefit the prisons.
Frakes defended how his staff reacted to the March 2nd uprising at the Tecumseh State Prison.
“At some point, staff were threatened, challenged, greatly outnumbered. They made the right decision to disengage and then the inmates made the decision to take it to a much higher level both in terms of the destruction, the lighting of fires, and then by far worst of all, they made the decision to kill two people.”
When asked if Tecumseh was the best location for a maximum security prison, “It would not have been where I would have built a large prison.”
Frakes continued that by saying, “It is important to think about both where are the inmates coming from and where will your staff come from. Two very important considerations. It was a national experiment – is about the best word I can use, to use prison construction as economic development.”
“Of all the facilities, in terms of having most of the pieces in place that it needs to be healthy and successful, it still continues to have challenges. I’ll attribute part of that to the population. I will certainly acknowledge that it is a facility that has had the most vacancies for a long period of time, so that is a challenge that contributes to it.”