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Frakes, Legislative Committee discuss prison overcrowding

Frakes, Legislative Committee discuss prison overcrowding

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Posted By: Nicole Cousins

The difficult process of addressing Nebraska’s plagued prison system continues.

The head of corrections, Scott Frakes and the state legislature's Corrections Investigative Committee met Friday to discuss overcrowding.

There are an estimated 5,300 inmates in Nebraska’s prison system right now, which makes the prison's capacity at around 158 percent.

Capacity must drop to below 140 percent before 2020, otherwise the governor will have to declare an emergency.

Frakes says those problems stem from having not enough staff, and not enough programming to occupy inmates, and help those released, from offending.

"Until we fill the positions we already have and get the full value of those positions,” Frakes said. “I still believe we have the right number of resources, we just don't have the people in the resources allocated."

This issue also contributes to assaults on staff.

The number so far this year are alarmingly high.

Between January and August, 141 staff members have been assaulted at NDCS facilities.

That number is nearly twice the 78 assaults corrections saw in all of 2013.

Those types of incidents can lead to more prison time.

"If we had programming and prosocial culture and some other things, to change the culture, I think we could safely and effectively manage all our facilities as they are today," Frakes said.

Frakes said it’s his mission as director to fill all positions in order to get proper programming for inmates.

Once that happens, it will be easier to pinpoint what resources and other help the prison system needs.

Earlier this month, Frakes proposed adding 164 new positions.

It was mentioned in Friday’s hearing, there are already 200 empty posts at any given time in the state's prisons.

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