Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins used a prison guard’s badge to slice his penis.
Then, two days after that Jan. 26 mutilation, Jenkins attempted a more severe form of self-harm: He slid his waist chain up his torso, hooked it to a fence in the prison yard and lowered his body “in an attempt to hang himself from the fence,” a prison report says.
It didn’t work. A correctional officer spotted Jenkins and radioed for help. Officers unhooked Jenkins from the fence, secured him to a gurney and escorted him to the prison’s medical unit.
The latest acts of self-harm come as Jenkins awaits a hearing to determine whether he is competent to face a death-penalty hearing over his August 2013 killings of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Juan Uribe-Pena, Curtis Bradford and Andrea Kruger.
Nebraska Corrections Director Scott Frakes said prison officials have been mystified as to how Jenkins keeps getting weapons of self-destruction. Jenkins, 29, says he is housed in solitary confinement in a barren cell, with only two blankets, at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.
Prison reports indicate that Jenkins has used the following to slice his penis: a broken floor tile, a piece of a radio, his eyeglasses, a screw from a shower.
And, now, a guard’s badge.
According to a prison report concerning that incident:
In mid-January, a corporal left his jacket on a chair in front of Jenkins’ cell. Jenkins said the corporal also left the hatch to Jenkins’ cell open.
Jenkins reached through the hatch and “stole the badge from his coat,” Jenkins wrote.
A week later, at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 26, a lieutenant peered into Jenkins’ cell and spotted Jenkins using the spike on the back of the badge to slice his penis.
“I witnessed inmate Jenkins cut his penis with Corporal Eckery’s badge,” the lieutenant wrote. “Inmate Jenkins slid the badge under the door after he was given several directives.”
Jenkins wrote that it took 11 stitches to close that cut — which, as with the others, he said he did in homage to a serpent god.
All told, Jenkins has received more than 75 stitches to close cuts that he has inflicted upon his face and penis in the past year.
Frakes told The World-Herald this week that Jenkins’ misconduct has vexed prison officials, causing them to focus “a lot of collective energy” on the issue.
“He seems to be able to use anything to break his skin,” Frakes said. “We dissect every incident for lessons learned.”
One of the lessons, according to Frakes: “What Nikko is undoubtedly good at ... (is) he learns how to find people’s buttons.”
Frakes said he is trying to reinforce with his staff the need for absolute consistency in the way they act around Jenkins.
Sometimes, in dealing with a manipulative prisoner, Frakes said, a staff member might promise a reward such as a peanut butter sandwich in exchange for the prisoner’s good behavior for the rest of the worker’s shift. But that reinforces the wrong behavior, Frakes said.
Jenkins is “not the only challenging person or even the most challenging person” in the prison system, he said.
Jenkins’ behavior has caused several delays in the death-penalty proceedings as Judge Peter Bataillon has thrice ordered him to be evaluated for competency.
Bataillon also has scolded Jenkins for cutting himself — and has grilled prison officials as to how Jenkins keeps getting sharp objects. The judge went so far as to ask if someone was slipping Jenkins razor blades in his mashed potatoes.
Prosecutors have argued that Jenkins’ motivation for mutilation is manipulation. They argue that he is feigning insanity in an attempt to prove himself crazy to legal observers.
Important to note: Jenkins has released the reports of his mutilations to news media outlets.
That said, the accounts released aren’t his own scribblings; they are the typed reports of corrections staff members and appear to be on official Nebraska Inmate Case Management System forms.
Frakes said officials are considering all options, including a transfer. Jenkins has a history of misbehavior at several institutions, including the Omaha Correctional Center and the Tecumseh State Prison.
“Maybe a change of venue makes sense,” Frakes said, but only if the prisons can meet Jenkins’ behavioral health and mental health needs.
World-Herald staff writer Cate Folsom contributed to this report.
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