Gov. Heineman’s prison probe under fire


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

The nuts and bolts of Gov. Dave Heineman’s move for a criminal investigation into the state’s prison scandal is drawing criticism, while one major player in the ongoing drama is set to meet with lawmakers in public today.

The former head of Nebraska’s prisons, Bob Houston, is scheduled to appear before a special legislative committee Friday. But Heineman told reporters on Thursday that a non-criminal investigation has already determined that Houston had not been told about two key Supreme Court rulings—rulings that changed the way sentences were to be handled.

Heineman says that’s also the case for current Corrections Director Mike Kenney, who has held the top spot for nearly a year.

Public documents recently released by the attorney general’s office show several state corrections workers and employees in the attorney general’s office were aware corrections employees were miscalculating sentences.

The miscalculations found inmates, some dangerous, getting out earlier than they should have.

Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning have put the Nebraska State Patrol in charge of the criminal probe but critics are not impressed.

The Nebraska Democratic Party is calling for an independent investigation led by a special prosecutor appointed by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

“The investigation should not be limited to the ‘Corrections Department’ but instead should include both the Governor’s and Attorney General’s office,” according to a statement from the NDP. “Each office is intricately involved with this scandal. Internal e-mails released in the past weeks indicate prison officials felt pressure to release dangerous criminals early for budgetary reasons, knowing doing so was in violation of the law.”

Heineman says he takes full responsibility for what occurs in state government.

Stay with Nebraska Watchdog for more on this developing story.

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Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday at 7:40 a.m. and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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