A coalition of Nebraska newspapers and broadcasters is going to court to fight a decision by state prison officials to withhold public records that identify its execution drug supplier.
A 30-page report from a legislative oversight committee called for consideration of higher pay, better benefits, raises for longevity “and other retention-focused incentives” to stabilize staffing levels.
Called the “Nebraska Death Penalty Legal Defense Fund,” the group sent out fund-raising emails on Friday signed by former Speaker of the Legislature, ex-State Sen. Mike Flood.
“Isolation for a very long time period can be very harmful,” said Julie Rogers of the Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare. “National standards agree that juvenile room confinement should be used only as a last resort to ensure safety, be time-limited and be closely monitored.”
Omaha attorney Stu Dornan this week filed a motion for post-conviction relief that challenges the state’s efforts to make Sandoval the first inmate to be executed in Nebraska in 20 years. It’s possible the motion could delay the setting of an execution date for Sandoval early next month.
The man now in line to be the first Nebraska death row inmate executed by lethal injection says he will fight the state’s efforts to put him to death.
“This liberal advocacy group has repeatedly worked to overturn the clear voice of the Nebraska people on the issue of capital punishment and waste taxpayer dollars with frivolous litigation,” said spokesman Taylor Gage in a prepared statement.
The ACLU of Nebraska charged that the death penalty repeal, enacted by the State Legislature over a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts, was in effect long enough to convert the death sentences for 11 men to life in prison.
The civil rights group said the “unconscionably” high fees for phone calls charged by counties impede inmates from a “basic need” — the ability to talk with their children, families and lawyers.
Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, recently denied a Nov. 10 public records request from The World-Herald seeking communications between his staff and the source who sold four execution drugs to the state.
Corrections Director Scott Frakes announced Tuesday that the bonus will be offered to people hired at the two prisons through Jan. 2. Originally, it had been offered to the first 100 people hired from Oct. 2 through Nov. 17.
A legal issue looms over Nebraska’s death penalty that’s unrelated to the new and untried lethal drug combination state officials unveiled this week.
Experts say the new four-drug combination officials unveiled Thursday has never been used by another state in a lethal injection execution. For that reason, legal challenges could lead to more delays.
On Thursday, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services announced the hiring of Taggart Boyd as warden of the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center and Lincoln Correctional Center, two adjacent facilities in west Lincoln.
The state’s motion filed in U.S. District Court claims that ACLU of Nebraska had “overreached” in its lawsuit, filed in August.
The request, released Wednesday by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, is already drawing skepticism from some state lawmakers.
Eric L. Ramos, 26, was scheduled to plead to charges of first-degree murder and four other felonies Tuesday in connection with the March 2 death of inmate Michael Galindo. Instead, he filed a plea in abatement, which says a lower court judge improperly found probable cause that Ramos committed the crimes.
Corporals Richard Fries, 53, and Ryan Tokar, 31, were arrested and sent to Johnson County Jail, according to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
State prison workers issued sometimes tearful pleas Friday that more be done to address high staff turnover and low morale among corrections employees.
The state’s Inspector General of Corrections Doug Koebernick called on the state to suspend and review the practice, citing studies that conclude that placing two troubled inmates in a small cell designed for one prisoner not only increased dangers and tension for the inmates but for staff as well.
The penitentiary was placed on modified operations, Dawn-Renee Smith said in a statement.
The 100-bed concrete dorm, which already holds 46 low-risk work release inmates, was the result of state lawmakers calling for quick action to reduce prison overcrowding that has plagued Nebraska for a decade.
Eric Scott, 37, escaped Wednesday while being driven from the Nebraska State Penitentiary by a Dodge County deputy.
Nebraska State Patrol investigator Neal Trantham also said that as many as 15 inmates participated in the March 2 killing of Michael J. Galindo. The only inmate who has so far been charged in the crime, Eric L. Ramos, was ordered to stand trial Wednesday.
A report, issued Thursday by the inspector general of the Nebraska correctional system, said it remains in “a significant staffing crisis” that has broad impact.
A recent sweep by authorities at the Nebraska State Penitentiary has triggered a criminal investigation after turning up illegal drugs, alcohol, weapons and a smartphone.
Prison employees were responding to a medical emergency about 2:15 a.m. When they entered a cell, an agitated inmate struck two staffers in the head and shoved another worker’s head into a wall, according to Dawn-Renee Smith, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department.
Nebraska’s effort to reduce prison overcrowding via “justice reinvestment” has fallen far short of projections, and state officials said Tuesday that the policy needs tweaks and more studies.
Gov. Pete Ricketts responded that the lawsuit could have dangerous consequences by allowing the early release of “dangerous criminals” and limiting tools to manage the inmate population.
After months of threats, the ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit early Wednesday, alleging that “extreme” overcrowding in the state’s prison system has caused “needless suffering and death” of inmates, as well as unsafe conditions for staff.
A state commission has halted an effort to form a new union representing Nebraska prison workers, ruling that a request to form a new union was filed too late.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services reported that the assault occurred in the dining hall. The inmate punched the employee several times in the face, until the employee fell down, at which point the inmate kicked the employee in the face.
His case is now headed to the death penalty phase.
The number of “intoxicant abuse” violations has increased from 1,714 to 2,348 over the past year, a rise of 37 percent, according to figures provided by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.
But Inspector General of Corrections Doug Koebernick, who issued the report, said his investigation could not pin down whether the events were linked. “There’s a lot of questions still,” he said. “I couldn’t find any proof one way or another.”
The certificate also indicated that Daelan LaMere had suffered a heart attack when he died June 6 in the intensive care unit of a Lincoln hospital.
The Department of Correctional Services has accepted help from the auditor to fix the problems and develop a new system to better track deposits and withdrawals from what’s called the inmate/juvenile trust fund.
“The continued pattern of inhumane treatment and deficient conditions at (Nebraska corrections) facilities present an invitation to legal action,” stated the ACLU letter. “Current conditions jeopardize public safety, the well being of corrections staff, and the health, safety and lives of those serving a sentence.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration proposed the raises at the end of August in a bid to reduce worker turnover within the Department of Correctional Services.
Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands on Thursday resentenced Eric McCain for the 1990 shooting of Gothenburg Police Sgt. Glenn Haas. McCain has served 26 years of the sentence.
The Vera Institute of Justice, based in New York City, said the state uses solitary confinement at more than twice the national rate and nearly half of all inmates spend at least one day in “the hole.”
Robert Clayborne Jr., 40, was in protective custody when inmates gained control of the prison for several hours after an attack on prison staff on May 10, 2015.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has filled another top medical post, promoting Dr. Alice Mitwaruciu to become the agency’s behavioral health administrator.
Another staff member of Nebraska’s prison system has been injured by an inmate.
While John Hagan focused on “mass incarceration” nationally, much of the four-hour forum moderated by Omaha State Sen. Burke Harr dealt with steps Nebraska is taking to promote alternatives to prison and reduce offenders from relapsing.
The information came out during a preliminary hearing for Timothy Clausen in Lancaster County Court. Clausen and Armon Dixon, 37, are accused of escaping from the maximum security prison on June 10 by hiding in laundry baskets in a truck headed for the Tecumseh prison.
At the Women’s Fund of Omaha’s annual Lead the Change event on Thursday, Lisa Ling told stories of courageous women she’s met all over the world.
Expansion of prison rehabilitation programs, a wing dedicated solely to incarcerated military veterans and two steps to reduce overcrowding were signs of progress cited by state corrections officials in a report issued Wednesday.
Now Doug Koebernick, inspector general of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, is questioning the response to the May 25 incident. He recently released a report on the incident in which he noted that the situation could have turned deadly for staff members and inmates.
Pennsylvania enacted similar reforms and saw two years pass before prison overcrowding figures began to decrease significantly, an expert said.
Staff members were escorting an inmate at the prison when he struck a staff member in the face, according to a state Corrections spokeswoman.
A corrections officer in a tower at the Nebraska State Penitentiary fired a warning shot as an inmate attempted to escape Saturday night from the Lincoln prison.
Jerall Moreland of the State Ombudsman’s Office said that while corrections has enacted reforms to improve mental health treatment behind bars, the department is being hampered by lack of staff and overcrowded conditions in prisons.
It’s disturbing that a prisoner at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women near York bashed a fellow inmate’s face and broke her arm by swi…
The system will be at or below 140 percent capacity by 2020, the prison director says.
Give the Nebraska prison system a hand for joining the modern age. The state is no longer using pen and paper to tally the criminal sentences …
Both inmates and volunteers said they were hopeful the program will help change the course of a prison system rocked in recent years by a deadly riot, overcrowding, mismanagement, a costly escape by two sex offenders and a series of violent attacks on correctional officers.
The director of Nebraska’s understaffed and overcrowded state prison system proposes adding 164 new full-time positions and $75 million in exp…
Scott Frakes, who was hired 19 months ago to turn around the Department of Corrections, unveiled a budget proposal for the next two fiscal years that asks for an additional $5 million in state general funds in 2017-18 and $15.3 million extra the following fiscal year, on top of the new prison construction.
Doug Koebernick, hired a year ago as inspector general of the Nebraska Correctional System, detailed an array of problems facing the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services in a 68-page report submitted Thursday to state lawmakers.
The Tecumseh prison was the scene of a riot last year that resulted in two inmate deaths and more than $2 million in damage.
Lincoln firefighters were called to the prison at at 3216 West Van Dorn, just north of Pioneers Park, at 10 p.m.
The administration delivered the proposal Friday to the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, the largest state employees union.
State Corrections Director Scott Frakes announced Tuesday that the one-time bonuses will be paid on Sept. 14 to staff members in “high turnover/high vacancy positions.”
Samar Akins of Lincoln, a former prison inmate who organized Monday’s demonstration, said current inmates deserve more job training and rehabilitation programs and more respect from corrections officers.
The event was aimed at connecting the young inmates with community role models, including former Husker and now motivational speaker DeMoine Adams. The day featured a panel discussion by former inmates, a basketball tournament and a concert.
Mike Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, said that the union has asked several times in recent months to open up negotiations to address high turnover and other problems with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, but those requests had been met with "deaf ears" until Thursday.
The draft report, obtained by The World-Herald on Thursday, says the increase in staffing would cost in the neighborhood of $11 million to $14 million a year, and comes as an investigation continues into the latest attacks on corrections officers — attacks that many link with chronic shortages of manpower.
Two key state senators have called for a meeting with state prison officials to get a handle on their plan to reduce assaults of corrections staffers.
LINCOLN — A prison inmate was able to get his arms around a staff member’s neck in the latest assault reported by the Nebraska Department of C…
A jury has found a 60-year-old inmate guilty of assault in connection with the start of the May 10, 2015, riot at the Tecumseh State Prison.
Video shot in the yard of the Tecumseh State Prison on May 10, 2015, shows inmates milling about when, suddenly, one inmate slugs a corrections officer in the face.