Growing inmate numbers feed for Kansas prison problems

Kansas Prison_423531

FILE – This March 23, 2011, photo shows the El Dorado Correctional Facility near El Dorado, Kan. Guards at the facility say two previously unreported mass disturbances during which inmates took control for hours of parts of facility preceded a June 2017 prison uprising. Low staffing, overcrowding and general tensions have created dangerous conditions, and […]

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas prisons face high staff turnover and potential inmate unrest at a time when state officials expect the population behind bars to continue growing steadily well into the future.

The problems could become worse.

The total state inmate population exceeded 9,900 last week, and the state’s official projections have it reaching 11,000 by 2027.

Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told legislators recently that he’s worried that high turnover is creating an inexperienced workforce. He blames low pay that starts at $13.95 an hour for keeping open one in every five jobs for uniformed officers.

Legislators and the union representing the officers increasingly see a link between inmate unrest and staffing shortages and long hours for remaining employees. The prison in El Dorado has seen multiple disturbances in recent months.

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