Dept. of Corrections employees testify for special committee - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Dept. of Corrections employees testify for special committee

Dept. of Corrections employees testify for special committee

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 Posted By: Camila Orti

corti@klkntv.com

Let the questioning begin.

A special legislative committee is hearing testimony from several people involved in the Dept. of Corrections miscalculation mishap. Thursday marked the first of several investigative hearings. Committee members say the goal is to figure out what went wrong that led the DOC to release hundreds of inmates early.

For several hours on Thursday, seven state senators questioned witnesses involved in what's now known as the "prison mess."

The investigative committee is getting to the bottom of how hundreds of inmate sentences were miscalculated, and how some workers ignored the State Supreme Court's recent mandated formula on how to do it.

"Did you feel compelled to let anybody else know in the office that people were breaking the law in Corrections because of the recent decision?" Sen. Bob Krist asked Linda Willard, former Assistant Attorney General.

"I did not know that they were breaking the law," Willard responded.

In her testimony, Willard says she was corresponding with then-records manager, Jeannene Douglass, via email, and knew the department wasn't following what the Court decided was correct. Willard says she assumed the DOC's legal council would take care of the policy change.

"The attorneys were there, they knew the importance of it, I had other cases I needed to get to," Willard said.

Things got a little more emotional when Douglass took the stand. She was one of the people responsible for calculating discharge dates.

"I think it was the overall atmosphere of the whole division," Douglass said.

Douglass testified that the entire department was under pressure to keep inmate numbers down.

"It was quite well-known that we had to reduce the population and that there was a lot of pressure to find ways to do it," Douglass said, "and I think it was coming from the Governor on down."

The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 15.

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