Inspector General of corrections releases yearly report

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 9:10 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System acts as a watchdog of sorts to the corrections system. His yearly report for 2020 outlines an overcrowding emergency, staffing issues, and a lack of transparency when it comes to COVID-19.

One of the biggest ongoing issues is too many inmates and not enough space.

In July, the state of Nebraska declared an overcrowding emergency, meaning that prisons were over 140% of capacity. Right now, they’re at around 150% which is down slightly.

“We probably have about 5,300 individuals in the prison system,” said Doug Koebernick the Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System. “Most of that decline is due to COVID because you had local counties that we’re not prosecuting and not having trials and not sending people to prisons.”

Koebernick said staffing has improved at places like the Nebraska State Penitentiary, thanks to salary bumps and bonuses, but those staff members are getting COVID-19.

There are now 135 corrections workers who’ve tested positive or about 6% of the workforce.

When it comes to inmates there have been 196, a vast majority at the penitentiary.

“Guys we’re contacting me because they weren’t able to get out of their cells, they weren’t able to get cleaning supplies, they weren’t able to get showers,” said Koebernick. “I haven’t heard that kind of anger or frustration in my five years on the job coming out of a facility.”

Koebernick said NDCS is working to adapt to COVID-19 but as isolation remains key he’s questioning why inmate transfers are rising.

“A lot more people were transferred during this time period in 2020 than in 2019 so that raises some questions that I’ll pursue with the department,” said Koebernick.

Koebernick also plans on releasing a full COVID-19 report of NDCS at a later date.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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