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Department of Corrections reveals measures for a safer environment

(MGN)

The Nebraska Department of Corrections Services is taking measures to empower team members and build a safer environment in the agency’s facilities, according to a press release from Director Scott R. Frakes.

“Our team members show up every day to keep dangerous people out of our communities and to ensure inmates completing their sentences are prepared to reenter society,” said Director Frakes. “Empowering our team with the resources they need to do their job and providing for their safety on the job is my top priority.”

Even with evidence-based programming, a segment – however small – of the NDCS population will continue to present challenges. For example, a recent assault at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI) occurred in restrictive housing, the most secure area of the facility. The inmate was in restraints with two staff present and still managed to hurt people. Inmates, such as the one in this case, who have the intent to hurt others will always be working to find a way to do so.

To address these challenges, NDCS is continuously looking for new ways to empower team members through improved training and greater facility security while also holding inmates accountable for their actions. The actions outlined below represent the proactive steps the agency has taken:

  • Searches – increased searches of housing units, cells, common areas, kitchen workers and industries workers prevents drug-induced violence and access to weapons.
  • Restrictions – removal of padlocks from inmate property; potentially flammable items from inmate canteen, and batteries from restrictive housing.
  • Staff Equipment – radios with ear buds, body cameras in certain areas; increased the potency of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) staff carry for self-protection and use to end an assault or other dangerous behavior.
  • Programming – increasing the amount and frequency of programming staff members deliver to inmates leads to changes in thinking and behavior. Clinical treatment, such as the Violence Reduction Program (VRP) and evidence-based programs, such as Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) and Thinking for a Change (T4C), are programs that target violence and criminal thinking.
  • Centralized Intelligence Team – the efforts of this team have been integral to identifying the most violent and disruptive of our population, as well as the individuals that direct others to commit violence.
  • Close Management Unit – developed a close management unit at TSCI and NSP to better manage our high risk population. The majority of the violent behavior is coming from a small percentage of the inmates. These close management units provide a secure transition process for inmates engaging in or orchestrating violence.
  • Consequences & Accountability – facilities have posted notices throughout housing units that it is a felony to assault a staff member. The agency investigates all staff assaults and refers them to local county attorney for prosecution. The agency issues internal disciplinary action, including loss of good time. Inmates committing violent acts are removed from general population and placed in restrictive housing. NDCS is always working to identify new deterrents as well as leverage programming to change and minimize criminal thinking and behavior.

In addition to the measures outlined above, NDCS uses training, equipment, procedures, and on-going assessments to prevent staff assaults. The agency continues to seek out best practices within NDCS and from other corrections systems around the country. Over 3,400 of the inmates currently in NDCS have a documented history of violence.

“We are dealing with an inmate population that is comfortable using violence to get to what they want,” said Director Frakes. “Our mission to keep people safe starts with the dedicated team at NDCS. The agency leadership and the people of Nebraska are grateful to our team members for their continued service.”

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