Interim Neb. county jail director quits 1 week after hiring

He did not give a reason for his resignation

Associated Press

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The newly-appointed interim director of the troubled Hall County Jail has resigned in the wake of questions about whether his jail management style is influenced by his son's imprisonment for murder in Arizona.

Interim director Randy Houser resigned late Wednesday in an email to Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf, the Grand Island Independent reported  Thursday. The email did not give a reason for Houser's resignation, which came a week after he had been appointed by the Hall County Board of Supervisors.

But Houser's resignation came after an anonymous letter sent to county supervisors questioned, among other things, Houser's philosophy on jail management, given his son's life sentence for first-degree murder in the 1999 killing of a 16-year-old girl.

Houser told the newspaper that his son's imprisonment had no bearing on his jail management style.

“I believe I have more insight than the average person who doesn't have a family member that's incarcerated, but it doesn't change my attitude,” Houser told The Independent in an interview Wednesday before he submitted his resignation.

Houser said he had started meeting with jail staff on Monday and suggested they take a more encouraging and approachable style with inmates.

Houser was hired Aug. 26 to serve as interim jail director for three to six months while the board conducted a national search for a permanent director, following the firings of former director Fred Ruiz and assistant director Jimmy Vann on Aug. 20.

Supervisors have declined to say why Ruiz and Vann were fired, but the action came after former corrections officers indicated they had quit because of management issues under Ruiz and Vann. One former employee has said she's considering a lawsuit.

Houser's resignation puts Zitterkopf back in charge as acting jail director.

The County Board is slated to discuss oversight of the jail again during a meeting Tuesday, Zitterkopf said.

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