12-hour shifts only temporary solution to prison problem

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nebraska’s overcrowded prison system has helped make McCook’s Work Ethic Camp more like just one more prison than the innovative rehabilitation center which it was originally envisioned as.

The prison system as a whole bears watching, however, as the WEC is one of McCook’s most important employers.

That’s why it’s of note that Scott R. Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is taking steps to find and keep more employers at its three largest male facilities to deal with issues that have arisen in recent years.

The state will begin offering a $10,000 hiring bonus for new corporals at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and the Lincoln Correctional Center/Diagnostic and Evaluation Center.

The old hiring bonus was $3,000, and there will also be a $10,000 bonus to staffers who refer additional people, and new employees at the NSP will get an automatic $500 at the end of the year.

No immediate word on whether what if any incentives will be offered in McCook.

Good news always seems to be tempered with not-so-good news, however, and Frakes announced that new 12-hour shifts will be implemented next week, with four consecutive 12-hour days on and three days off. Some staff members had already requested and were approved for 12-hour shifts.

“The expanded use of 12-hour shifts is necessary for the safe and effective operation of the facility.”

Frakes promises that once more staff members are hired and trained, the facility will turn to normal hours of operation.

For the sake of staff members, their families and prisoners themselves, let’s hope that’s true.

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