Culture Study to be Included in Nebraska Correctional Reform

LINCOLN, Neb. — After having multiple problems occur within its correctional facilities, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has decided to conduct a culture study before making reform plans. The department has faced criticism for miscalculated prison sentences, a riot at Tecumseh State Correctional Institute, and the poor handling of inmate Nikko Jenkins, a released inmate who, within a month of being released, killed four people in Omaha, after pleas for a mental health civil commitment.

The Department of Correctional Services will interview 300 random employees, all working different shifts at different facilities, to look at the department culture, training process and opportunities for advancement. They will also be examining employee performance and management at the facilities.

Department Director Scott Frakes — who started his position February of this year — has a new plan that will serve as a training and performance guide for the department. Frakes has initially sensed a fear-based culture among the employees, and has promised to change the culture to avoid high turn over and burn out rates.

For the turn over rates to decrease, Frakes will also have to work on issues due to overcrowding in the facilities, required overtime and the lack of loyalty incentive to stay with the department. After Union leaders brought the lack of loyalty incentive to the department’s attention, officials have realized that the lack of incentive may be another reason for the currently high turnover rate.

Frakes believes that this study will be a great opportunity for the department to better understand the employees perspective, and allow the workers to explain their honest opinion about the department.

Sharon Pettid, the governor’s chief human resources officer, will be the head of the study, and expects the study to be completed by the end of the year. They have also allowed staff members who are not randomly selected to request an interview if they please.

They believe that with this study, they will be able to better understand the changes within the department, and be able to help with challenges that occur in the facilities. Feedback for the interviews will stay confidential, but the study will show the location and position of the employee.