Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
A highly detailed 60-page investigation finds the Nebraska Department of Corrections under fire for its handling—or mishandling— of accused Omaha mass murderer Nikko Jenkins during his days behind bars.
In a brief three sentence response prison officials are dismissing the report.
Nikko Jenkins is awaiting trial on four counts of 1st Degree Murder
The study by State Ombudsman Marshall Lux repeatedly criticizes the prison’s care of Jenkins, citing a lack of mental health treatment during his prolonged days in isolation (solitary confinement).
According to Lux, Jenkins “did not have the advantage of receiving either rehabilitative programming or transition programming before he was released to the community.”
Jenkins is awaiting trial on four counts of first degree murder, killings that occurred shortly after he was discharged last July 30.
While Jenkins’ case has heightened the debate over Nebraska’s good-time law—criminals serve half their sentences; for each day behind bars they bank one day off—Lux defends the rule arguing it helps maintain order in the prisons.
“The State’s good time system, as the system functions today, is not about being lenient with inmates,” says Lux.
Instead when it comes to inmates getting out and going bad, Lux places a good chunk of the blame on a lack of money and care.
According to the report very few inmates receive “programming resources” dealing with violence or anger problems.
The report adds that during the last 10 years Nebraska’s prison population has jumped 20 percent, while the Corrections Department budget is up seven percent.
As for Jenkins, Lux says he was “locked up alone in a cell for twenty-three hours per day, every day…a measure that would have broader implications for his progress in terms of his rehabilitation, and potentially his ‘condition.’”
In a brief letter to Lux, Dr. Randy Kohl, the Deputy Director of Health Services for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, insisted the report was way off-base.
“NCDS disagrees with the factual allegations, but due to pending litigation we must decline to respond at this time,” wrote Kohl.
Contact Joe Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org and listen to Joe every Monday morning at 7:40 on KFAB radio in Omaha.
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