Nebraska prisons to continue double-bunking solitary inmates
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska corrections director says he plans to continue double-bunking inmates in solitary confinement despite the inspector general’s call to suspend the practice out of concern it increases dangers for inmates and staff.
Inspector General of Corrections Doug Koebernick recently called on the state to suspend and review the practice of bunking two inmates in a solitary cell. He cited studies concluding that placing two troubled inmates in a small cell designed for one increases danger and tension for inmates and staff, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
But State Corrections Director Scott Frakes rejected suspending the practice. He said the department has reviewed the practice and will continue it, along with screening cellmates for compatibility. Nebraska has double-bunked cells in solitary confinement in four state prisons due to overcrowding
Frakes acknowledged that no academic studies exist to prove that double-bunking is a positive practice that improves behavior, but said his 35 years of corrections experience shows it can be safe.
Koebernick’s call was in response to the April slaying of inmate Terry Berry Jr. in a double-bunked cell at Tecumseh State Prison. Frakes blamed Berry’s death solely on his cellmate, Patrick Schroeder, who was serving life in prison for murder.
“Mr. Schroeder had multiple avenues with which to address any concerns about his living situation and chose, instead, to kill Mr. Berry,” Frakes said.
Solitary confinement, or “restrictive housing,” is where disruptive and dangerous inmates are sent when they violate rules or are a threat to themselves or others. Double-bunking is seen nationally as a risky decision, though several states and county jails do it to deal with overcrowding and slim budgets.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com