June 16, 2014

Union says guards at Kansas’ Lansing prison in danger after recent attacks by inmates

The Kansas Organization of State Employees has received reports that 10 guards were injured in five attacks over five days earlier this month. The union blames lack of staffing for the increased violence. State officials have acknowledged attacks on three consecutive days but say the injuries were minor and deny that other inmates were celebrating and encouraging the violence.

A state employees union has raised concerns about a recent attacks on guards at the Lansing Correctional Facility, but the state Department of Corrections says none of the injuries is serious.

The Kansas Organization of State Employees has received reports that 10 guards were injured in five attacks between June 5 and June 9, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The union, which blames the increased violence on a lack of staff at the prison, said it has received reports that the guard injuries included broken teeth, a torn rotator cuff and fingers bitten down to the bone.

“Inmates recognize the staffing situation and are increasingly testing the boundaries and response capabilities,” said Rebecca Proctor the union’s executive director. “Sadly, they are becoming more successful and emboldened. When our governor and the Legislature refuse to appropriately fund public services, including corrections, they send a clear message to the bad guys: it’s open season on the good guys.”

Jeremy Barclay, a spokesman for the Corrections Department, acknowledged that inmates attacked guards on three consecutive days recently, but he said the incidents are unrelated and none of the guards were seriously hurt.

Barclay also said he knew of “no broken teeth, no broken bones, no exposed bone” injuries. He said the department will work to prevent future attacks to the extent possible.

The Lansing prison is short 27 uniformed officers out of about 500 positions, and the department has heard the employee group’s concerns, Barclay said.

“It’s a correctional facility,” Barclay said of the Lansing prison, which has 2,300 inmates. “We’re not housing people who have a propensity toward good behavior.”

The union said it has gotten reports that suggest the facility is descending into chaos, with other inmates celebrating and encouraging the attacks on guards.

Barclay said that hasn’t been reported to department officials.

“After that first incident Thursday night, then the warden began spending even more time out and about,” Barclay said. “We have witnessed no reports of high-fives or anything like that through our officers.”

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