A housing unit at the Nebraska State Penitentiary was placed under tighter control Saturday after two separate incidents involving multiple inmates, a corrections official said.

In one incident Saturday afternoon, an inmate was assaulted by several other inmates and suffered serious injuries, including a broken jaw, said Laura Strimple, chief of staff at the Department of Correctional Services.

In another incident, 11 inmates in the same housing unit were treated by medical staff for being under the influence of K2, a synthetic marijuana, Strimple said in a press release.

Prison staff placed the unit on “modified operations,” which the department defined as “actions taken to more closely control movement of the inmates within a facility” because of “safety and security needs.”

Those actions can include confining inmates to cells, canceling programs or work activities and directly escorting certain inmates, Strimple said. The restrictions were to be determined by the warden or a designee.

There was no immediate word on what restrictions went into place Saturday.

The reported assault and drug use follow a memo last week from a state legislative watchdog who said the State Penitentiary in Lincoln is potentially the most troubled prison in Nebraska, with staff shortages, record-high overtime and the existence of K2 and other contraband.

Doug Koebernick, the inspector general for corrections, had used terms like “alarming” and “disturbing” to describe conditions at the State Penitentiary, the states largest prison. It holds about 1,300 inmates, ranging from maximum to minimum custody.

Koebernick said problems at the Lincoln prison may now exceed those at the Tecumseh State Prison, which has been the site of two deadly riots since 2015.

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