Today, Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) Director Mike Kenney announced administrative personnel actions taken to hold accountable the agency staff members responsible for inmate sentencing miscalculations. Facing termination from the NDCS, the General Counsel and Associate Legal Counsel at the department are no longer employed by state government.
"As I have stated, those responsible for these miscalculations will be held accountable," said Gov. Heineman. "Their actions were inappropriate, inexcusable and irresponsible."
As a result of the independent administrative investigation conducted by the Jackson Lewis law firm, Director Kenney initiated a very specific process that must be followed with regard to disciplinary action for employees covered by State Personnel Rules and Regulations. Today, Director Kenney has determined that termination was appropriate for two lawyers within NDCS. Facing probable termination, General Counsel George Green and Associate Legal Counsel Sharon Lindgren chose to retire from state government, effective immediately. They are no longer employees of the agency.
"The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is committed to rebuilding the trust that was lost with sentencing miscalculations," said Dir. Kenney. "Trust is forged in accountability and performance. We will work hard to earn back the respect of the public. Our first step is to cooperate fully with the criminal investigation and take further action, if needed."
Additionally, NDCS Records Administrator Kyle Poppert will be suspended for two weeks without pay and NDCS Associate Legal Counsel Kathy Blum will be suspended one day without pay.
Earlier this month, Gov. Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning announced that the Nebraska State Patrol has launched a criminal investigation of the sentencing miscalculations of inmates by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services. The results of the criminal investigation will be provided to Attorney General Bruning and Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.
Gov. Heineman also previously sent an email to all Corrections Department employees emphasizing that no one is above the law and when the Nebraska Supreme Court issues a ruling, the expectation is that every state employee and every state agency comply with the law.