Report: Mental health policy changes recommended after inmate hurt at Tecumseh prison

A damning report released to 6 News shows an inmate experiencing a mental health crisis at a Nebraska state prison had a concerning response.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 6:01 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The Office of Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System released a report Tuesday on an incident that happened nearly two years ago at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

The June 2021 incident involved an inmate with a serious mental illness and history of disruptive behavior. According to the report, the inmate caused a disturbance and threatened staff.

That person was then shot by about 200 projectiles, leaving him wounded all over his body. Three rubber bullets were embedded under his skin.

This image of an injured inmate was included in a May 2, 2023, report about the Tecumseh State...
This image of an injured inmate was included in a May 2, 2023, report about the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.(Office of the Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System)

According to the report:

  • The actions of the staff were not consistent with their training on force policy.
  • The response from the mental health staff was minimal during this incident, even though the inmate’s serious mental illness was known.
  • The incident was mishandled in many ways.

The report also recommended several actions:

  • Update the department’s use-of-force policy to include de-escalation tactics by a licensed mental health professional, particularly in cases involving an inmate known to have mental health issues.
  • Put a policy in place to develop individualized de-escalation plans for inmates with serious mental illness, especially those with a history of volatile interactions with staff.
  • Provide training for those who would be first-responders to incidents like this.

Managing Editor Kevin Westhues and Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.