The Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas Department of Corrections

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

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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.

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.

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

The Sedgwick County Commission agreed on Wednesday to allow the Division of Corrections to submit a $3 million grant to the state.

The money would be used for five programs which are designed to prevent and address juvenile delinquency. Three of the programs, which constitute the majority of the grant, are for programs operated by the state, including the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC).

The Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility is being converted to a medium-security prison this summer and the nearly 150 mental health inmates currently held there will be moved to the larger El Dorado Correctional Facility, the Kansas Department of Corrections said.

The plan announced this week quickly drew concerns from Larned officials and an organization that represents corrections officers, The Hutchinson News reported.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW/File photo

Programs that help adults who commit felony crimes get their lives back on track will continue in Sedgwick County. County commissioners on Wednesday approved a $4 million grant application to the Kansas Department of Corrections for the Community Corrections programs.

The Community Corrections programs are state-mandated and mostly state funded.


The Kansas Department of Corrections says a lockdown at the Lansing Correctional Facility was lifted today.

Four separate attacks on staff members Thursday led to a lockdown of the maximum security unit. That meant all programs and visitation in the maximum security section of the prison were cancelled. Adam Pfannenstiel, with the Department of Corrections, says four staff members suffered minor injuries in the attacks last week.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File Photo

A Kansas House committee has approved raises for corrections officers in the state’s prisons, but didn’t approve any across-the-board raises for state workers.

Some members of the committee noted that many state employees haven’t received a raise since 2009. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ron Ryckman said they might be able to consider raises for more workers if efficiency recommendations from a recent state spending study are put into effect.