Condemned quadruple killer Nikko Jenkins is either on death row or in its neighborhood.
An online database of inmates listed Jenkins as being in the Tecumseh State Prison on Tuesday — just a day or two after he was listed as being in the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.
However, Corrections officials declined Tuesday to say whether Jenkins is on death row at Tecumseh with the other 10 condemned men. Corrections officials contend that state law precludes them from disclosing Jenkins’ whereabouts within the prison.
“His housing assignment is not public information,” Corrections spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith wrote in an email.
Refusing to disclose whether someone is on death row appears to be unprecedented.
Corrections’ own website has a separate page with names and photos of all the other inmates sentenced to death — all under the heading “Nebraska Death Row Inmates.” Jenkins is not included on that list — yet.
Even Jenkins’ attorney, Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley, said he has no idea where Jenkins is within Tecumseh. Riley said he asked Corrections last week to notify him of Jenkins’ placement within the system; he said he was assured he would be.
Riley wasn’t notified. He said he found out Tuesday that Jenkins had been transferred from Lincoln to Tecumseh only after checking the inmate locator on Corrections’ website.
“It’s irritating,” he said.
State ombudsman Marshall Lux — whose office routinely deals with prisoner issues and has been involved in monitoring Jenkins’ treatment — also wasn’t informed of Jenkins’ placement.
Lux said he had no idea Jenkins had been moved until a reporter contacted him Tuesday. Lux said onlookers shouldn’t assume that the transfer to Tecumseh means that Jenkins is on death row.
Lux said he’s concerned that Jenkins may again be in a segregation cell, commonly known as solitary confinement.
“They need to handle him with care,” Lux said. “He’s going to need to earn trust. He obviously has proven himself to be violent in the past. … I don’t want bad things to happen to other inmates. And I don’t want bad things to happen to him, either.
“He’s shown a proclivity to self-harm over the last several years in particular.”
Lux noted that Jenkins spent half of his first decade behind bars in 23-hour-a-day isolation, prompting a legislative investigation and concerns that such a stay affected his well-being.
In fact, Jenkins was in a segregated unit in Tecumseh just a few months before he was released. Within three weeks of his July 30, 2013, release, Jenkins shot and killed four Omahans: Juan Uribe-Pena and Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz on Aug. 11, Curtis Bradford on Aug. 19 and Andrea Kruger on Aug. 21.
A three-judge panel sentenced him to death last week.
Tuesday, Corrections Director Scott Frakes declined an interview because “your questions involve security information and information protected by state statute,” Smith said.
Asked which state law precluded Corrections from revealing Jenkins’ location within Tecumseh, Smith pointed to a statute that keeps prisoners’ medical, disciplinary and treatment files confidential.
Earlier this week, Jenkins was listed as being at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.
His move to Tecumseh comes after some hand-wringing among Corrections leaders about where to put the 30-year-old killer. Sunday, The World-Herald reported that Frakes and members of his leadership team were discussing where to place Jenkins amid concerns that he might be too dangerous for death row.
Their concerns go beyond Jenkins’ history of violent behavior, both inside and outside the prison.
One major alarm: As recently as March, Jenkins told a therapist he will hurt or kill again — in the hopes that he is found not guilty by reason of insanity and, in turn, is sent to a psychiatric facility.
Corrections “is committed to keeping staff members and inmates safe,” Smith said in the statement. “Actions necessary to accomplish this with Mr. Jenkins and all those incarcerated are being taken.”