With a projected revenue short fall of nearly one billion dollars, and a continued push for property tax relief it’s hard to imagine any other issues making an impact on the upcoming Legislative session in January.
State Senator Matt Williams of District 36, as well as five other state senators were in Grand Island this week for a legislative kickoff event put on annually by the chamber of commerce. Senator Williams devoted the majority of his time informing those in attendance about the issues in department of corrections and how to correct those issues in corrections.
The problem first came to light in the summer of 2014 Governor Dave Heinemann’s final term was coming to an end and mis-calculated sentences had been uncovered resulting in of all people Nikko Jenkins being sent back out in the public. Since than a new corrections director, Scott Frakes has been hired, but even he admits the process of correcting corrections will take years and will not be cheap.
The legislature has looked at the issue in special committee meetings since that time and the full body took a look at the issue during the last legislative session, and Senator Williams believes the legislature is ready, despite the budget concerns to spend money to fix a plethora off issues facing the states corrections department. Programming, Williams said would help lower the amount of recidivism, or inmates who end up back in prison within a year after they are released, which is currently at a National rate of 50%
While many will point to funding as one of the main reasons programming such as mental health doesn’t happen or happen enough in the state prisons Williams says another reason is the “extremely high” turnover rate of corrections employees.
In a year that will have many state agencies, counties, cities, schools and homes cutting and tightening their respective budget belts, Williams says he sees only one way to correct corrections, providing the new corrections director, with the funds and resources he needs to fix the problem.
KRGI’s Five Minute Focus Program “correcting corrections”
KRGI’s Full Interview with State Senator Matt Williams of District 36