WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – No clean clothes and some guards without masks. Those were allegations KSN News was hearing from inmates at the Wichita Work Release Facility who were sent to Lansing Correctional Facility last month during the coronavirus pandemic.
KSN has found the inmates are planning to file a lawsuit.
“I just feel they really dropped the ball, and they treated us totally unfair.”
“Everybody wants to act tough while we’re in prison, but we’re actually scared.”
“They froze our funds. We had no money. We had no contact with the outside.”
The work release inmates requested that KSN News not identify them. The inmates spoke candidly about what they experienced at Lansing Correctional Facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections moved hundreds of them when two inmates tested positive for COVID-19.
“When we were in A Cell House, we were across the way from, in the new building from all of the people who tested positive, and they would go in there and do their checks, and then, they would come into our pod.”
KSN asked the inmate if the guards were wearing personal protective equipment.
“No,” one said.
“Having only one jumpsuit, no clean clothes, you know, guards coming in with no masks on, and the coronavirus has been increasing there every day,” another told us.
“I have not heard specifically about that issue at Lansing, or quite honestly any other correctional facility,” said Gov. Laura Kelly.
On Monday, Gov. Kelly said the department of corrections is doing all it can to keep inmates and staff safe from the virus and that includes keeping infected inmates isolated and as well as staff wearing personal protective equipment.
KSN reached out to the department of corrections to ask about the allegations. A spokeswoman responded.
“There have certainly been challenges with the moves that have taken place. We’ve done everything we can to minimize the impact on our residents. There are a lot of moving parts and unfortunately, things don’t always go perfectly, but we always circle back and try to address any outstanding concerns.”Rebecca Witte, Kansas Department of Corrections
KSN obtained a letter from Lansing’s warden to some inmates from Lansing who voiced their complaints which said, “We did not intend for your stay here at LCF to be any form of punishment. If it took longer to provide clothing and things for you to do than you were promised, that was not our intention. I am grateful that you remain healthy. Your health and safety was and is our priority.”
Meanwhile, KSN is still waiting to see if inmates are going to move forward with their lawsuit. Since the department of corrections moved inmates from Wichita Work Release to Lansing, they’re now requiring all employees to wear masks to keep themselves and the inmates safe.