Bob Houston is Retiring
The announcement of Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Bob Houston is accompanied by a significant amount of finger pointing and criticism regarding his tenure.
Lets get one thing straight..
Automatic “good time” early release of dangerous criminals was NOT Houston’s fault!
He was given the laws and rules to operate within.
The majority of the fault lies primarily with our state elected officials.
That fault extends well past the elected officials that actually voted for these laws. It also extends to the politicians who stood by silent over the years and did nothing to change these laws.
Ultimately, the politicians are the ones that made things like “automatic good time”, head scratcher furloughs, and inmates mowing down innocent people in state owned vans possible.
If Mr. Houston deserves any criticism, it is simply for not speaking out.
For not telling it like it is…
For not painting the true picture of what was really happening behind those penitentiary walls, and his need for more funds.
Houston should have been attending Judiciary Committee meetings, pounding on the table and fomenting about the fact that he had been handed “20 pounds of potatoes” to manage, but was only supplied with a “15 pound sack”.
Quite frankly, Houston needed a bigger “sack”.
He should have asked for one.
A bigger “budgetary sack”.
A bigger “prison sack”.
A bigger “corrections officer sack”.
A bigger “rehabilitation and education programs sack”.
Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t pesky excess potatoes popping out of this “15 lb. sack”…
… it was dangerous offenders.
To be fair…
It’s hard to totally blame Houston for keeping quiet.
It wasn’t until very recently that the issue of good time early release became a hot topic.
Up until last month, the typical reaction you would get from the average state senator or governor pertaining to “good time early release” would be maybe an insulting eye roll or simply a brushoff altogether.
The fact of the matter is, had Bob Houston aggressively and publicly discussed the problems with “good time early release” and the potential of needing more money or building another prison…
He probably would’ve been fired.
You see that’s part of the problem with government…
Department heads may *report* to the top executives in state and local government…
But they should *answer to* – and most importantly *work for* – THE PEOPLE!
We often hear people say “We should run government like a private business!”
Sometimes that statement makes a lot of sense…
But far too many times in government, such an intense focus on simply saving money – at virtually any cost – can have catastrophic results.
This prison situation is a prime example of why we *cannot* run government *exactly* like a business.
In private business, the goal of the company is to make a profit.
In the private sector….going “cheap” will help the profit margin so long as the “product” is still desirable and still in demand. The “quality” of the product is dependent on the consumers’ demand. If your “product” is not as desirable as that of your competitors, you will not make a profit.
In government, the goal of the “profit” is (or at least should be) a high level of service to the public whether that be in the form of properly paved roads, keeping dangerous criminals behind bars or interdicting dangerous criminals on the street.
It’s not that easy nor is the “product/profit” as tangible in government as it is in the private world.
“Going cheap” (as we apparently have been doing with the Nebraska Prison system) results in people being hurt or killed.
Bob Houston was put in the ultimate “lose/lose” scenario, and for that we do feel for him.
Although we thank him for his decades of service, we do hope he will now feel more comfortable to talk and thus be more forthcoming with regard to his honest perspectives on what really works, what doesn’t, and what the NDOCS needs to keep society safe.