(Lincoln, NE) -- The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has declared a staffing emergency at two of their Lincoln facilities.
NDCS Director Scott R. Frakes says the staffing emergencies are at the Lincoln Correctional Center and the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center. Prison leadership says due to the staffing shortages, most employees at those two facilities will work mandatory 12-hour shifts.
Frakes says in order to keep things running efficiently, the two facilities will operate under a combined roster. “Normally, each facility operates on its own in terms of where staff are assigned. In order to keep activities as normal as possible, there will be situations where staff members will be asked to work in the opposite facility. In essence, the facilities will coordinate together.”
DEC is the intake facility for all adult males entering the NDCS, and LCC is a maximum custody male facility that includes housing for residential mental health. Construction is underway to connect the two facilities. The project includes improvements to the reception and treatment spaces, with shared amenities, increased beds and programming space.
Frakes says the decision to move to extended shifts is spurred largely by a slowdown in hiring. “We are feeling the effects that many other industries and businesses are experiencing currently, nationally and across Nebraska. This is a very tight job market, especially in Lincoln and it is having an impact on our two largest facilities – the Nebraska State Penitentiary and LCC/DEC.”
Final details are being developed to the LCC/DEC schedule, which will consist primarily of 12-hour shifts, with some positions remaining eight hours, to provide overlap coverage. “Strategically, this will serve the populations housed in those facilities in a better way,” said Frakes.
In late 2019, NSP and the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI) moved to 12-hour shifts, a schedule they have continued to maintain since. At the same time, NDCS launched a $10,000 hiring bonus for corporals at NSP, TSCI and LCC/DEC. That incentive remains in effect, as does the $10,000 bonus for team members who refer corporals for hire in those facilities.
In addition to providing ongoing financial incentives, in the last six months NDCS has designated two personnel exclusively to recruitment and retention. “Those individuals work directly with wardens and staff members in the facilities to keep incentive programs front and center and follow up on leads about potential hires,” said Dir. Frakes. “Everything that we can bring to bear as an agency to address this issue, we will do.”