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Nebraska prisons report assaults on two staff, and another worker with COVID-19
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Nebraska prisons report assaults on two staff, and another worker with COVID-19

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Nebraska State Penitentiary

Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services reported an inmate assaulted two staff members at the Nebraska State Penitentiary shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, leaving both workers with serious injuries.

The assaults happened in a prison yard, when multiple groups of men started fighting, said Corrections spokeswoman Laura Strimple. Staff members used chemical agents to break up the altercations.

Two inmates received cuts, apparently from homemade weapons, Strimple said. Their injuries were not serious and both men were treated by prison medical staff.

After the fight on the yard, inmates were escorted back into the prison, but one prisoner slipped out of his restraints and punched a nearby staff member in the head multiple times. The same inmate also assaulted a second staff member who came to assist. Both were treated at a local hospital for their injuries.

Director Scott Frakes also reported Tuesday a third Corrections staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus. The staff member works at the State Penitentiary and is isolating at home. The person is the second at the penitentiary to test positive. The other case was reported in a worker at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center. 

Director details what Nebraska prisons are doing to avoid COVID-19 spread

Anyone who may have had close contact with the most recent case in the past 72 hours will be directed to self-quarantine until they are cleared to return to work by a medical provider.

No inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, Frakes said.

After the assaults Tuesday at the penitentiary, two housing units remained on modified operations while the investigation continues to identify all of the inmates involved in the fights on the yard, as well as the assaults on both staff members.

Strimple said results of the investigation will be provided to the county attorney for possible criminal prosecution. In addition, the department's disciplinary process will be used with sanctions, such as loss of good time, applied according to the rules and regulations.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature

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