LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska Dept of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes received a 30% raise this year to $250,000.
Governor Pete Ricketts defends the large raise for Frakes even as two state senators criticize the move as unjustified. Spokesman Taylor Gage says Ricketts wanted to acknowledge Frakes’ successes with the agency and keep him from being lured away by another state or agency.
Gage told reporters that the corrections department was “in crisis” when Ricketts took office in 2015 but is “trending in a positive direction with increased capacity, reduced staff turnover, and more rehabilitative outcomes for inmates.”
State Senators Steve Lathrop and Ernie Chambers, both of Omaha, say they were surprised at the raise since Frakes has yet to get long-running overcrowding and staff shortages within state prisons. Chambers calls the size of the raise “obscene.”
Lathrop told the Omaha World-Herald that “(Frakes) has presented no plan for alleviating the overcrowding, and has demonstrated an unwillingness to work with the Legislature to find solutions,” adding that he “can’t conceive of a reason to give someone a $60,000 raise when our prison staffing is out of whack and our prisons are #1 or #2 in the nation in overcrowding.”
Gage says Frakes can’t be blamed for overcrowding because he doesn’t control how many inmates are sent to prison.
Kevin Kempf, executive director of the Correctional Leaders Association, calls Frakes one of the best prison directors in the nation while performing an extremely challenging job.