Last week’s prison escape is the latest in a series of high-profile problems at state facilities including a report calling corrections workers underpaid, and understaffed. Thursday, a state senator directly tells Nebraska Department of Corrections Director Scott Frakes that he should be fired.
The Nebraska Ombudsman says this is the first time in 30 years that inmates this dangerous have escaped from their maximum security housing, and many agree it's because of systemic failures.
Riots, escapes, Nikko Jenkins continuously harming himself, and execution drugs purchased improperly are all issues that have happened under the guidance of Frakes over the last 1 ½ years.
Thursday, in an executive session hearing held by the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee, Frakes said last week’s prison escape happened because the inmates got into an area they weren't supposed to and because no one checked on them.
Senators and the NE Ombudsman Marshall Lux mostly agree that the riots and escape are signs of a system under a lot of stress.
Senator Les Seiler, chairman of the committee, anticipates fixing long term issues could cost more than $100 million but Frakes hasn't brought them a total estimate.
"It's a major problem that's going to cost a lot of money to fix. We need to know how much money. We deserve to have a straight answer of what the timetable is for fixing staffing, for fixing facilities, for fixing mental health, for fixing retention, for fixing the programming so inmates are introduced back into society in a way to become productive citizens," Sen. Seiler described.
Senator Ernie Chambers told Frakes he should be fired because of the continued problems.
"I believe that I am carrying out the mission that I was brought here to do. We know this department has a lot of challenges, a lot of issues. It takes time to uncover all those problems. It's horrible that it's an incident like this that brings to light but that's what we do we take incidents like this and use them as opportunities to fix problems address failures and move forward. At the point that I believe that I'm not a value to the state of Nebraska I will put in my resignation," Frakes told KMTV after the hearing.
The NE Ombudsman and experts from the Virginia prison system will now investigate what led to their escapes.