The Nebraska State Penitentiary has ended a full lockdown, but will stay on modified operations at least through the weekend, Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes announced Friday.
That means outside visits to the prison aren't allowed, but inmates can have some controlled movement outside of their cells, access to showers and day rooms, but no unescorted movement outside their units.
The penitentiary was locked down Wednesday morning for intensive searches of cells, restrooms, day rooms and other spaces for drugs, alcohol and contraband, including weapons and cellphones.
“The decision to shut down activity across the facility was not spurred by any single incident,” Frakes said. “But there was no doubt that strong and direct action needed to be taken based on the number of recent assaults and discovery of contraband.”
Frakes called it a "no-holds-barred approach" to stopping the increase in disorder.
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Frakes said in a statement he is not ready to discuss what may have been uncovered in the recent sweep.
Penitentiary Warden Michele Wilhelm said inmates have been cooperative during the lockdown.
“It is stressful anytime there is a break in routine and I can appreciate that," she said. "At the same time, we have a responsibility to make sure that anything that compromises the security of the facility is dealt with immediately.”
Wilhelm said regularly assigned staff members, as well as others who volunteered to assist, stepped up in a big way to ensure the operation went as smoothly and quickly as possible.
The status of the facility will continue to be assessed throughout the weekend, Frakes said.
“Much of the decision to return to normal operations will be based on the conduct of the population,” he said.