Nebraska’s Corrections Director, Scott Frakes, has delivered his response to the ACLU regarding its threat to sue the state over prison violence and overcrowding. A letter from Frakes outlines the reform efforts that have already taken place and those that are underway now. In the letter, Frakes said “We have proactively identified not only problems but solutions, including investments in the physical plant, facility operations and , most importantly, inmate programming.”
Frakes said prison officials are not indifferent to any of the prisons’ problems, but added solutions take time. He said an investigation is underway into the latest assault by an inmate on staff members, which happeneded Wednesday night at Tecumseh.
The Nebraska Correctional Services Department said in a news release Thursday that the melee broke out around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday when staffers were removing from a housing unit several inmates who appeared to be inebriated.
The department says one inmate punched a guard who’d told the inmate that he was going to be handcuffed. Then the inmate punched another guard who was restraining another inmate. The department says more staffers responded with pepper spray to stop the inmate, who bit the caseworker in a thigh. The two guard corporals were treated at Johnson County Hospital and released. The caseworker didn’t seek outside medical care. The department hasn’t released the inmate’s name.
On the positive side, Frakes said that inmate-on-inmate assaults have dropped over the past 15 months, the number of inmate-on-staff assaults, has decreased recently, and a 100 bed housing unit is nearly complete, offering to help solve the overcrowding problem.
“To me, the only number of assaults that is acceptable is zero” Frakes said. He added that “we do an incredible amount of work every day, and almost all of it goes right. We are having more positive impacts that people realize.”