LINCOLN — A troubled state prison already under a staffing emergency had another problem on Wednesday: no water.

A leak was discovered about noon Wednesday at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, and water service for the prison wasn’t restored until about 7:45 p.m., according to Corrections Department spokeswoman Laura Strimple.

Strimple said it took some time to pinpoint the leak in the prison, but once it was found, it was quickly repaired. She said that showers and laundry operations were suspended during the water outage but that evening meals were not disrupted.

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The State Penitentiary, founded in 1869, is the state’s oldest and largest prison. It holds about 1,350 inmates a day, about twice its design capacity.

Last week, a “staffing emergency” was declared at the State Penitentiary after staff vacancies increased to the point that rehabilitation programs, recreational activities and family visits had to be canceled frequently, even with workers logging several overtime shifts.

The prison is now operating on 12-hour shifts, with inmates locked in their cells and getting no visitation or club activities during the night shift. The state has also begun offering $10,000 bonuses for new security staff hired at the penitentiary and two other prisons with staffing shortages.

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Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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