The El Dorado Correctional Facility

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Some Kansas lawmakers are concerned that recent disturbances at two state prisons are partially the result of mismanagement.

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.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is giving emergency raises to guards in the state prison system, with officers at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado getting the biggest bump.

Gage Skidmore, flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Sam Brownback is making an announcement about the Department of Corrections at a prison that has seen at least three significant disturbances in recent months.

Lawmakers and the state employees' union have urged the administration to address chronic staffing shortages and low pay among Kansas corrections workers. The governor's office has not disclosed what Brownback will say Thursday afternoon at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Michael Coghlan, flickr Creative Commons

The head of the union that represents Kansas state workers says he’s pleased that legislators from both sides of the aisle are calling on Gov. Sam Brownback to order an immediate pay increase for guards at state prisons.

Robert Choromanski had backed an earlier call for a special legislative session. But he says he could also support giving guards an emergency increase now, and then revisiting the issue during the Legislature’s next regular session.

“I would be totally fine with that," Choromanski says. "Then we could negate having the special session."

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas lawmakers in both parties are calling for higher pay for the state’s corrections officers after several recent incidents at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers had some tough questions Thursday for Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood about staff shortages that recently contributed to several violent incidents at a state prison in El Dorado.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, took Norwood to task for withholding information about inmate unrest at the prison located just north of Wichita.

“It concerns me that we’re not getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Kelly said.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas officials have declared an emergency at the state prison in El Dorado because of staffing shortages.

The staffing shortages are being blamed for several recent violent incidents at the prison, which houses both medium- and maximum-security inmates.

To compensate, prison officials began requiring guards to work 12-hour shifts and sometimes up to 16 hours.

The union that represents state employees filed a grievance, charging that extended-hour shifts could only be required in emergencies.

Michael Coghlan, flickr Creative Commons

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.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Inmates at a Kansas prison housing some of the state's most dangerous criminals twice took control of the prison yard for hours in recent months, setting a fire, trying to create barricades and breaking into a security office, in mass disturbances not previously disclosed by corrections officials, according to prison guards who spoke to The Associated Press.

Michael Coghlan, flickr Creative Commons

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

Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, has filed a formal grievance with Secretary of Corrections Joe Norwood, alleging that prison officials are “coercing” guards to work a weekly 16-hour shift to ensure adequate staffing.

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