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Corrections Director Frakes seeks 52 more prison security positions

September 18, 2018

Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes is seeking to add 52 prison security staff members in the next two fiscal years, according to his budget request for 2019-2021.

Eighteen corporals and six sergeants would be added, six per quarter in the first year that begins July 1, 2019. In the second year, he would add 18 more corporals and six more sergeants.

Frakes submitted a budget request Saturday seeking $221.4 million in state general funds in 2019-20, and $229.9 million the next year. This year’s general fund appropriation is $215.4 million.

He also requested four case managers, to help prepare inmates to return to their communities, who would work at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Community Corrections Center-Lincoln, the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women and Omaha Correctional Center.

The budget also includes $1.35 million in funding for an electronic-health records system that would allow the department to exchange health information electronically. According to the budget request, the system would assist medical providers with increased quality of care and would reduce medical errors.

Estimated ongoing, annual expenses for the system would be $97,425.

Senators have been asking the department to increase programming for inmates, and in this budget, the department requested $250,000 in each of the next two years to maintain training and supplies, and expand capacity for cognitive behavioral interventions when inmates come into the prisons. More inmates, an estimated 25 percent more, would get programming, targeting those who are parole-eligible.

That would include an increase in facilitators and group meetings, including groups in Thinking for a Change, Moral Reconation Therapy and Living in Balance programs.

The budget request also includes $15.2 million for expansion at the state penitentiary for food preparation and dining, and additional programming space. The governor’s 2017-18 budget included a 100-bed dormitory there.

Frakes said the safety of employees and the people incarcerated in state prisons is the foundation of everything the department seeks to accomplish.

The department goals include:

* Reduce workplace injuries by half;

* Reduce agency turnover to 18 percent;

* Provide programming for parole eligibility 100 percent of the time;

* Establish 10 additional housing units within the prisons that are mission-specific, such as a veterans’ unit already in use;

* Implement electronic health records;

* Prepare inmates to transition through community custody to release.

State agencies’ budget requests were required to be submitted by Sept. 15. Gov. Pete Ricketts will consider all the agency requests as he puts together a two-year budget for 2019-21. That budget will be presented to the Legislature in January.

Last year, Frakes submitted an adjustment to his 2017-19 state budget request, but did not ask for additional funding. Rather, he asked to spend money already in his budget to hire 29 corporals and sergeants, and to reallocate funding for health workers.

At the time, Frakes said the 29 positions, along with a previously funded request for the full-time equivalent of 19 employees, was consistent with a staffing analysis that requested an additional 48 full-time employees for 2017-18.

Ricketts and the Legislature had invested $117 million in Corrections in the previous three years, Frakes said.

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