Government & Politics

Amid summer of violence, Brownback touts ‘success with mentorship’ in Kansas prisons

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback traveled to the White House last week to talk about a prison mentoring program.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback traveled to the White House last week to talk about a prison mentoring program. AP file photo

The latest outburst of unrest in the Kansas prison system occurred two days after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback traveled to Washington to talk about the success of a mentoring program for prisoners.

Brownback was invited by the White House “to present Kansas’ success with mentorship and reducing recidivism,” a Brownback spokeswoman told The Hutchinson News.

The visit to Washington occurred on Wednesday. On Friday a fight at the state’s largest prison, the Lansing Correctional Facility, prompted a lockdown in the maximum security unit. That followed violence at the El Dorado Correctional Facility and a riot involving fires at the state prison in Norton.

(FILE VIDEO-- JULY 13, 2017) Kansas Secretary of Corrections, Joe Norwood, spoke at El Dorado Correctional Facility about an earlier incident that occurred at the prison.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Brownback met with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Sen. John Cornyn and others.

The Kansas Department of Corrections’ annual report for 2016 said the Mentoring4Success program, launched in July 2011, had matched more than 7,200 inmates with mentors to help them transition back into society after release. The report said 8.7 percent of inmates with mentors committed a new offense in the first year after release, compared to 20.7 percent of the overall population.

The fight Friday at the Lansing prison began about noon in the dining room. There were no reported injuries to inmates or guards.

On Sept. 5, an estimated 400 or more inmates rioted at the Norton Correctional Facility, smashing windows and setting fires. That followed weeks of unrest at Kansas state prisons, many of which have been understaffed. Brownback in August announced a pay raise for prison employees.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC