Monday, May 11, 2015

prison riot kills two inmates convicted of sex offenses; attorney general dithers

A prison riot at the Tecumseh [NE] State Correctional Institution left two inmates dead. Both had been convicted of sexual assault of a child.

The prison, of course, has been on lockdown while the staff restores order.
Officials stress there is no risk to the public.
Good to know. Instead of a risk to the public, two men who had not been sentenced to death were killed. Guess who that bland reassurance fails to reassure? Families of those doing prison time for sex offenses.
[Corrections Director] Frakes said the Tecumseh facility was understaffed at the time of the disturbance, but said it is the least crowded of Nebraska's prison facilities.
If a riot at the understaffed and least crowded facility results in two deaths, imagine what a disturbance at an overcrowded facility could do.

And yet, politicians resist taking measures that would reduce overcrowding.
The ACLU released a statement Monday in response to the riots in Tecumseh, saying its first thoughts are with the front line prison, but "these riots are a painful reminder that Nebraska's prison system is a system in crisis. Our research has clearly documented horrific conditions of confinement rampant throughout our overcrowded prison system that threatens public safety now and into the future." 
The ACLU went on to say that Nebraska corrections officials have been aware of the conditions and failed to enact meaningful reforms for years and renewed their calls for the Legislature to act now.
A system in crisis calls for swift action.
Prison reform is at the top of the agenda when the Nebraska Legislature reconvenes Tuesday. LB 605 is designed to reduce prison overcrowding by using more probation for low-level offenses and increasing supervision for former inmates released on parole. LB 173 places new limits on mandatory minimum sentences. They would only apply to those convicted of violent crimes, not drug offenses, and it eliminates the "three strikes, you're out" rule or mandatory minimum sentences for habitual criminals. 
LB 598 will also be considered. It mandates less solitary confinement and better mental health treatment for prisoners. ...
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson says more probation and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences go too far. Peterson has fears they will put violent offenders back on the street too soon.
Too soon?  Does the attorney general mean he fears offenders will be back on the streets before more inmates are killed?

As Registered Citizens and family members of those citizens, that swift action must be on our own shoulders. Call your state legislator and urge support of measures that would ease overcrowding and almost certainly save lives.

Our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the two men who were killed.

~ marie

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