Latest statements on Tecumseh situation

Posted By: Megan Conway 

Tecumseh has been under lock-down since riots ensued with inmates last Sunday. Two inmates were killed, others were injured including some correctional staff. The latest statements from Director Scott Frakes of the Department of Corrections says:

“I won’t make assumptions and then look for evidence to fit those assumptions. I have to be sure that as we move forward to review the entire incident, we use accurate information to determine what occurred.”

Frakes also says bringing the facility off lock-down will be done in small, measured steps and it also depends on the cooperation of the inmate population. The special Legislative committee in charge of looking into prison overcrowding and other issues, met with Frakes in a closed meeting. Those other issues include a decrease in programs, aimed at preparing prisoners for life outside the walls. Pastor Bob Brian is part of a volunteer clergy that leads bible studies at the prison.

“We used to have worship every week, for a religious class. We used to have it every week for 2 hours, now it’s every other week for 1 hour,” says Brian.

Brian not only helps on the inside, but also outside of prison, when ex–inmates are trying to transition back into society. He takes them to job interviews or helps them look for an apartment, but he says with fewer programs, inmates are lacking the skills they need to make the transition back into society smoothly.

“Once you’ve been in for longer than about 4 or 5 years, you start to become institutionalized and you lose that ability to make decisions for yourself after living for so long with everybody telling you when to eat, when to exercise, when to take a shower. Inmates, that were there, some of the lifers they can tell me what it was like in the old days when they had a lot of college classes. They could take welding; they could take carpentry. That doesn’t happen anymore,” says Brian.

Brian is supposed to go to Tecumseh next Wednesday for bible study, but the lock-down may not be over. Frakes also says in his statement that other Department of Corrections facilities are helping to prepare meals or do laundry; jobs inmates usually do, because staff safety is the number one priority.