Kansas Department of Corrections

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A security lapse at the El Dorado Correctional Facility led to a June 24 disturbance during which inmates used makeshift weapons to threaten guards, according to new information provided Wednesday to Kansas lawmakers.

The report, compiled by the prison’s Serious Incident Review Board, said the failure of guards to secure “multiple” doors allowed between 50 and 70 inmates to leave their cells and enter the prison yard where inmates from another cellblock had gathered for their scheduled “evening recreation.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

He’s not angry.

He’s been eating everything he can.

And he’s noticed how distracted we all are thanks to our smartphones.

But mostly, Lamonte McIntyre says, he spent most of his time in his first week out of prison after 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit:

“Trying to force myself to believe it’s real,” he says. “That’s what I’ll spend my life doing.”

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas corrections officials hope to have a contract signed before the end of the year to build a new state prison in Lansing. The negotiations over that prison contract have been taking place behind closed doors.

Several companies have submitted bids for the construction project. Mike Gaito of the Kansas Department of Corrections said Wednesday that the private negotiations, rather than open bidding, will mean a better plan.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The head of the Kansas Department of Corrections says he sees no connection between last week’s riot at a prison in Norton and disturbances earlier this summer at the state’s El Dorado prison.

But some lawmakers are charging that mismanagement of the state’s prison population is contributing to the unrest.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Inmates turned over a tactical response vehicle, made weapons out of broken pieces of glass and tried to run over a corrections officer with a commandeered cart during a riot Tuesday night at the Norton Correctional Facility in north-central Kansas, according to a copy of the prison's log obtained by KCUR. 

The threat posed by inmates was serious enough that, at one point, responding officers were told to use lethal force if necessary. 

Kansas Department of Corrections

All is quiet Wednesday after a night of rioting at the Norton Correctional Facility about 320 miles west of Kansas City.

The Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) has moved 100 inmates to other prisons around the state, according to spokesman Samir Arif. Fifty of those inmates were moved to Lansing.

Two staff members suffered minor injuries and were treated on site.

This is one of several uprisings the DOC has had to put down recently. The last disturbance was in July at the prison in El Dorado.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

Courtesy Kansas Department of Corrections

A state senator is pushing for a legislative investigation of recent uprisings and disturbances at a 1,500-inmate prison near Wichita.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, on Monday proposed having legislative auditors look into incidents at the El Dorado Correctional Facility on at least four separate days in May, June and July.

Courtesy Kansas Department of Corrections

Staffing shortages at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are creating unsafe working conditions, according to the head of the union that represents state workers.

Courtesy Kansas Department of Corrections

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.

With the aid of a new restorative justice program, Judi Bergquist met the man who killed her son. We hear her story, and meet the woman who brought this program to the Kansas Department of Corrections. 

Plus, how one Wichita State anthropologist stumbled upon the long-lost city of Etzanoa, an infamous Native American settlement that has remained a mystery for 400 years.

Guests:

Kansas News Service

As they gavel in Monday for the 2017 session, Kansas legislators are considering delaying juvenile justice reforms enacted last year.

Last year’s bill was intended to steer low-level juvenile offenders into diversion and treatment programs rather than group homes and detention facilities. It had broad bipartisan support, and Gov. Sam Brownback called it the premier legislation of the 2016 session when he signed it in April.

A huge majority of Kansans say they would support reducing non-violent drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor as a way to reduce the prison population in the state.

The poll from the ACLU of Kansas shows that 86 percent of those polled either strongly support or somewhat support what the organization calls the "defelonization of certain nonviolent drug convictions."

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wants to merge the state's Juvenile Justice Authority with the Department of Corrections.