Tecumseh Warden Says Inmate Uprisings Leave Misperception

NEBRASKA CITY- Tecumseh Prison Warden Brad Hansen said two inmate uprisings since spring of 2015 have created misperceptions about the institution, but told Nebraska City Rotarians Wednesday the prison is effective in corrections and  a good place to work.

Hansen: “The reality is different. Unfortunately the two disturbances define Tecumseh, but they do not define who we are as employees and it doesn’t define the men who are there.”

He said day-to-day activities go on for the prison, which is licensed for 960 inmates, and said great progress has been made to increase inmate programming by 50 percent and emphasize leadership training for middle management.

Hansen: “We are working real hard to work with staff to see the men in a little bit different light. Yes, maybe there is 10 or 15 percent of the men that require lots of resources, but most of the men … are doing really well and are improving themselves.”

Hansen started at Tecumseh in March of 2016 and said he was telling people the prison was making great strides before the uprising at a housing unit on March 2, which resulted in the death of two inmates.

He said the 2015 incident included isolated staff that felt they were in great peril and this spring’s uprising preceded another exodus of workers. Today, the prison has 439 authorized positions, but is 110 staff down. The highest number of vacancies the prison has ever had.

Hansen said shortages of staff means inmate activities must sometime be canceled, which raises issues of inmate idleness.

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Hansen: “It’s also a great safety issue. If inmates are busy, they have hope. They believe that staff believes in treating them fair and respectfully. That’s the kind of institution we’re trying to run right now.”

Hansen said a starting wage of $18.60 an hour and a $2,500 signing bonus has started to make an impact, but the prison still has policies of 12-hour work days and mandatory overtime.