Lincoln, NE -- On the heels of an unprecedented ruling in the state of Nebraska, critics say it's time for a change in the prison system. A judge ordered doctors from the Lincoln Regional Center to treat Nikko Jenkins, but at a separate facility.
The regional center told Douglas Co. District Court Judge Peter Bataillon it refused to take Jenkins because it could not make sure the staff, patients, and public would be safe.
In Judge Bataillon's ruling Tuesday, he said the LRC has serious security issues that need to be addressed, but the convicted quadruple murderer needed treatment now.
LRC Medical Director Roger Donovick outlined how their seclusion cells aren't secluded, the staff is unarmed, and security is inadequate.
Nebraska Ombudsman Marshall Lux, who takes complaints against state government, says the revelation is concerning because the state needs to improve the mental health system for the growing prison population.
“The expectation has always been that is what that facility was for among other things, and it's a surprise I’m sure to a number of people,” Lux described.
Jenkins will go to either the Lincoln Correctional Center or Diagnostic & Evaluation Center, both run by the prison system, while his competency is restored for the death penalty phase of his trial.
LRC staff will run his treatment, but officials don't have a final plan to handle Jenkins yet.
Senator Ernie Chambers is worried the prison will dictate what happens to Jenkins, possibly putting him in solitary, which would not improve his competency.
"Every time the prison wants to do something it will do it, and what they say as a prison will trump what the regional center staff will say from the standpoint of medical care and treatment,” Chambers explained.
Chambers says we now see how the mental health system between the regional center and prison system is broken.
Lux says a bill is being discussed in the unicameral that could help. He says it would create a mental health facility for correctional inmates at the Hastings Regional Center, which is currently used to rehabilitate youth.