Group outside Governor’s Mansion asks for inmate reform

Posted by: Abigail Wood

People met outside the Governor’s Mansion Monday afternoon to ask for prison reform in the Nebraska Department of Corrections. This, just days after corrections employees held a rally on the steps of the capitol to ask for better wages and more respect. Monday’s event, hosted by a different group of people, was focused on helping inmates.

"Prisoners get out in an average of 2.7 years," said John Krejci with Reentry Alliance of Nebraska. "So they’re going to be your citizens so let’s help them get rehabilitation, let’s give them what they need."

One man, 20-year-old Raesean Cratton, at the protest has an uncle in prison. It’s his second time through, and his nephew says he thinks the system is part of the problem.

"He got into some fights and so much violence in there. It’s like once you get in there you have to fit in," Cratton said.

He joined the group in asking for accountability, transparency, and better programs. But programs take staff, and that’s an area that’s failing in corrections.

"There’s an unbelievable amount of turnover at all of these places," said State Employee Union Representative Mike Marvin. "We can’t keep experienced help. The wages are terrible."

According to the union, NDCS is losing employees to other local agencies. Even though Nebraska Corrections pay is comperable with states like Iowa, Kansas, and Wyoming.

"But that’s not who we compete with for officers," Marvin said. "We compete with Douglas County. We compete with Lancaster County. We compete with Hall county and we’re far behind on this."