Union says guards at Lansing prison in danger

LANSING, Kan. (AP) — A state employees union has raised concerns about a recent spate of attacks on guards at the Lansing Correctional Facility, but the state Department of Corrections says none of the injuries are serious.

The Kansas Organization of State Employees has received reports that 10 guards were injured in five attacks between June 5-9, 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 the guard injuries have 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,” KOSE executive director Rebecca Proctor said. “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, spokesman for the Corrections Department, acknowledges that inmates attacked guards on three consecutive days recently. But he says 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 also 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 KOSE’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.”

KOSE 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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