Officers Resolve Situation At Kansas Prison, Return Inmates to Cells

Jun 29, 2017

Editor's note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.

A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman said Thursday evening that officers at the El Dorado Correctional Facility worked during the day to get a group of inmates to return to their cells.

Todd Fertig said in an email that a group of inmates refused to return to their cells Thursday morning.

Fertig said the situation was resolved around 5 p.m. Thursday, after backup personnel were called from other facilities.

"KDOC responded by ensuring the security of the facility and methodically returning the offenders to their cell houses, which occurred without any use of force by staff," Fertig said.

There were no injuries and the department will conduct a review of the event, he said.

Robert Choromanski, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said earlier Thursday that members of the union told him the facility is on lockdown.

“It started out basically with the inmates taking over the gym,” he said. “The prison at El Dorado had to activate the special response team, basically like a SWAT, tactical team.”

Choromanski is concerned staffing shortages at the maximum-security facility could have played a part in the situation. The Wichita Eagle recently reported that prison guards at the El Dorado facility would begin working 12-hour shifts because of a lack of workers

“The inmates can see that there are staffing shortages,” he said. “When they can see that the correctional staff is not prepared in numbers to maintain control of the facility, they are going to take advantage of the situation.”

Choromanski said there are more than 100 job vacancies at the El Dorado prison, which has an inmate capacity of 1,511. El Dorado is about 35 miles northeast of Wichita.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.