LANSING, Kan. (KSNW) – A guard at Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas says he quit over coronavirus safety concerns.
After 15 years on the job, Sgt. David Carter resigned Wednesday over a prison atmosphere that he says puts staff members in danger.
He points to a lack of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for inmates and staff.
“We were given cloth masks made by inmates on sewing machines,” said Carter.
Carter says the recent riot at the facility started due to lack of PPE for inmates.
The Lansing prison has drawn attention recently with the Kansas Department of Corrections reporting 79 staff and 88 inmates with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Two inmates have died.
Carter says prison administrators are leaving inmates and guards at risk.
“C-2 has five guys in a cell, living on top of each other,” he said. “In a 4-man cell they have 5 guys so social distancing is impossible. And the next best thing is to protect yourself and they can’t do that either, so frustrations start to boil over a little bit.”
The Kansas Department of Corrections website has a timeline of actions it has taken to reduce the spread of the coronavirus:
- In early March, the KDOC team began coordinating with KDHE to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. KDHE assisted with the review and approval of all of our pandemic plans
- We began encouraging hand washing and the additional sanitization of high-traffic areas
- On March 13, we closed our facilities to all visitors, tour groups, volunteers and mentors
- On March 13, we issued our first communication to residents and family members and began weekly updates to these groups from there on out
- The last week of March, we launched additional pages to our external website with content including FAQs, family communication, KDHE/CDC resources, etc. to keep family and the community informed of our work
- Beginning the week of March 16, we implemented a passive screening process of all employees and contractors
- Beginning in March, the Prisoner Review Board canceled in-person comment sessions and encouraged the continued use of mailing/e-mailing comments
- We also limited transfers between facilities to only those needed as a safety precaution for individuals
- We began an active screening process on March 25 of all employees, contractors and residents who have off-site work assignments
- We eliminated the $2 primary visit fee for those reporting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to ensure that there are no barriers to a resident reporting their symptoms
- Beginning March 23, Parole Offices closed to the public. Those staff members continue to work, monitoring their clients remotely
- On April 3, Kansas Correctional Industries and their inmate workers began production of cloth face masks with the goal of distributing three masks per staff member and resident throughout KDOC
- Beginning April 3, we began an Intake Isolation Unit at Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility for all new adult males beginning their sentences with KDOC. These individuals will spend a minimum of 14 days in isolation, being monitored for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, prior to being moved to our Reception and Diagnostic Unit for additional processing. These strategies, along with educating our staff and residents regarding signs and symptoms and increased sanitization of high-traffic areas are just a few of the ways we are working to keep our staff and residents healthy and safe. Separate IIU also established within current buildings for women at the Topeka Correctional Facility and youth at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex
- On April 4, we implemented a reduced movement plan for the Lansing facility to keep residents from one cellhouse from mixing with another cellhouse. Meals began to be served in cellhouses, rather than the chow hall for all medium and maximum residents
- On April 6, we opened a hotline for family members and citizens to call and seek answers to their questions related to KDOC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also implemented an e-mail address for the same cause, firstname.lastname@example.org
- On April 9, cloth face masks distributed to Lansing residents and staff in accordance with the April 3 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for use
- On April 15, four Kansas National Guard members arrived at Lansing Correctional Facility to assist with medical support
- On April 23, 10 Kansas National Guard members arrived at Lansing Correctional Facility to assist with moving all LCF residents to the newly reconstructed facility. The move began on Monday, April 20 and was finished on Wednesday, April 29. The new facility has improved airflow, security and the ability to keep surfaces cleaner
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