prison

Crysta Henthorne / KCUR 89.3

Junkie logic brought an addict to the doorsteps of a Topeka woman once convicted of selling cocaine.

The addict was looking to buy, and Kansas’ online database of criminal offenders has a handy geographic search tool that lets users pull up the names, crimes and addresses of people who live within a few miles of their homes.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say Kansans wrongly convicted of crimes deserve to be compensated by the state. The panel amended and advanced a bill Monday that would do that using more than just cash.

Right now, Kansas pays nothing automatically to people imprisoned on botched convictions. People in that situation can use lawsuits to seek payments, but the bill in the legislature would create a system for compensation without a legal fight.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

If you’re released from prison in some states after a wrongful conviction, you could be owed millions of dollars or a promise of a college education.

In Kansas and 17 other states, you get nothing.

On Wednesday, lawmakers heard from men who’d lost decades behind bars on bogus convictions. They emerged middle-aged and broke, with no work history or credit rating.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Today, when mentally ill Kansans land in a psychiatric hospital or behind bars, they lose Medicaid coverage. When they’re freed, the daunting chore of signing up for government health coverage starts from scratch.

Now, a push gaining steam among state lawmakers would merely pause that coverage, keeping care and critical medications ready for mental health patients when they get out.

Wikipedia

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback abruptly postponed a meeting Thursday where lawmakers were expected to approve or reject a plan for a private contractor to rebuild the state prison in Lansing. Consideration of the proposal was already pushed off earlier this month. The additional delay raises questions that the project may not have enough support in the State Finance Council to advance.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

As a push increases to hire a private contractor to build a new Lansing prison and then lease it to the state, some Kansas legislative leaders look warily at the idea.

This week, Gov. Sam Brownback stopped at the Lansing Correctional Facility to make yet another push for his administration’s plan to overhaul it. The visit came just days before a panel of lawmakers could decide the fate of his plan for replacing the deteriorating prison.

Wikipedia

A deal to farm out the next new prison in Kansas to a private firm -- one that would replace the outdated facility in Lansing and lease it to the state -- hit a delay Thursday.

The State Finance Council, which would have to sign off lease-to-buy contract, said it needs two weeks to further study the details of a plan to pay CoreCivic Inc. $362 million over 20 years.

Several members of the council said they didn’t want to approve the deal until the state and the company finalized their contract negotiations.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

When Kansans on Medicaid are incarcerated or treated at residential mental health facilities, their Medicaid benefits are terminated. Mental health advocates hope to change that during the upcoming legislative session by pushing for a bill that would instead suspend those benefits.

After patients or inmates are dropped from Medicaid, it can take weeks or months to reinstate health coverage — a risk for people who need continuous care for mental health conditions.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Jail Task Force appointed by County Executive Frank White will spend a lot of time looking at alternatives to locking up people.

The panel's first meeting Wednesday had a Jail 101 component. Members heard about how many inmates are in the jail because they can't afford bail, how many have mental illnesses and how jail staff need to keep some inmates away from others.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In a corner of her house in Sparta in southwest Missouri, Jymie Jimerson has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband. On one side is a copy of Willie’s mid-’70s LP, “Red Headed Stranger.”

“When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie’s Red Headed Stranger,” Jimerson says. “I try to keep it up there as a reminder of better days.”

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.”

Bigstock

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas has stopped cooperating with an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial detention facility in Leavenworth, according to the special master looking into the matter.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After spending 23 years incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit, Lamonte McIntyre has spent the last week getting used to being a free man. Today, we ask McIntyre, his mother Rosie McIntyre, and one of his attorneys, Cheryl Pilate, about the crime he was wrongly convicted of, the court fight that finally liberated him, and how he moved through the anger and frustration he initially developed behind bars.

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.

The American Humanist Association on Wednesday sued Kansas prison officials, alleging the Topeka Correctional Facility promotes Christianity in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, claims the prison displays prayers and messages on prison bulletin boards, has erected an eight-foot cross in one of its multi-purpose rooms and often broadcasts movies with Christian themes on inmates’ televisions.

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.

Pixabay - CC

Adam Foss, a former assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass., says today's justice system is the same as the one created hundreds of years ago, and it's failing a lot of people. Today, a conversation on how prosecutors can help fix the criminal justice system. Then, we get caught up on the state of organized labor in Missouri and the status of the

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.

Corbis / Flickr — CC

A lawsuit alleging the Missouri Department of Corrections systematically denies medical treatment to prisoners with chronic hepatitis C has taken a big leap forward after a judge certified it as a class action.

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.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A 35-year-old man died overnight Thursday after being restrained to a chair at the Jackson County Detention Center.

The man was brought in on a parole violation around 11 p.m. According to Jackson County spokeswoman Marshanna Hester, he was evaluated by a nurse at intake.

If you're charged with a crime and can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Because in our judicial system, we're supposed to be presumed innocent. But in Missouri, critics say the state's public defender system isn't doing it's job. One Kansas City man believes that system's failures lead to his life sentence. So what's going on in Missouri?

Guests:

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.

Redbull Trinker / Flickr — CC

Two former detainees at the Leavenworth Detention Center have filed a class action lawsuit over the taping of meetings and calls between inmates and their attorneys at the pretrial facility.

The lawsuit follows a similar one filed by two attorneys who alleged their phone calls and meetings with clients at the facility were taped.

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:

Courtesy Lansing Historical Museum

When Jennifer Myer looks at the photographs along the wall of her tiny museum next to the Lansing Correctional Facility, the experience is "humbling," she says.

Others who've seen the images say they're "haunting."

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The Kansas Federal Public Defender says federal prosecutors have failed to turn over all attorney-client phone calls that were recorded at the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth to a special master looking into their legality.

In a court filing Wednesday, the public defender identified recorded calls to at least two attorneys that were not disclosed by prosecutors.

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