Family, friends of El Dorado prison employees react after tense situation


EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) – UPDATE – (10:00 p.m.) According to Todd Fertig, Director of Communications for the Kansas Department of Corrections, as of around 5:00 p.m. the situation at the El Dorado Correctional Facility was resolved.

KDOC said it will conduct a review of the event and take actions as necessary to prevent further incidents in the future.

While officials say the disturbance is over, people whose loved ones work in the prison are worried this could happen again.

It was a tense few hours at the El Dorado Correctional Facility after some of the inmates refused to return to their cells. It was several hours before the facility was able to get everything safe and secure.

While that was happening, several people crowded into a nearby parking lot waiting for any news on their loved ones who were working inside when all of this took place.

“I have close friends that have loved ones in there and it’s nerve racking not knowing what’s going on,” said La Vette Pless.

Chalissa Hamilton’s mom is a nurse who has worked at the correctional facility for the past three years.

“I heard from her this morning, but ever since then I haven’t heard from her,” said Hamilton. “I’m scared, I’m scared for everyone that is involved.”

Original Story:

The Kansas Department of Corrections said a group of offenders at El Dorado Correctional Facility refused to return to their assigned cells Thursday morning.

Department spokesman Todd Fertig said no incidents of violence have occurred, and there have been no injuries to offenders or staff. The department said the facility is secure and measures to return the offenders to the cell houses is ongoing.

The union representing prison workers says it has received reports from corrections officers that the prison has been on lockdown. The Kansas Organization of State Employees has said in the past that the prison is understaffed and its officers are being required to work 12-hour shifts.

A spokesman for the office of Governor Sam Brownback said the governor has been made aware of the situation.

Traffic is currently being diverted from entering the jail.

Victoria Luby lives a mile and a half down the road from the facility and her partner has worked there for about 15 years. She has been outside the correctional facility and she knows several people who work inside, so she is concerned. She even bought an emergency scanner so that she can keep- an ear on what kind of response is happening there.

“It gives me a little peace of mind, I know if security has been breached, then maybe we have somebody out and I can lock my doors,” said Luby.

Luby said she has lived near the facility for about four years and that recently she’s seen more activity around the prison and the people she knows that work there are more concerned about safety and security inside.

Right now KDOC is saying the facility is secure and measures to get all the inmates back to their cells is ongoing.

KSN will continue to follow this story and we will have team coverage coming up tonight on KSN News at 6:00.BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE FACILITY

The El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF), Kansas’ newest correctional facility, was constructed as a result of a 1988 class action lawsuit challenging prison conditions. The $58 million facility was originally constructed to house 640 adult male inmates with the potential for future expansion of 725 additional beds. In 1995, a 115-bed, medium-custody dormitory was created by modifying an existing industrial building. In 2001, two additional cell houses were activated at the central unit at a cost of $17.5 million. EDCF’s Central Unit opened in January 1991.

Located one mile east of El Dorado on State Highway 54, EDCF is designed to house special management, maximum- and medium-custody inmates. Inmates assigned to the Central Unit are usually repeat offenders with a history of violent behavior.

EDCF’s philosophy is that offenders are sentenced to incarceration as punishment, not for punishment. During an inmate’s incarceration, it is our responsibility to increase offenders’ abilities and motivations to practice responsible, pro-social, crime-free behavior through the provision of programs and services designed to assist with both risk reduction and reentry efforts.

EDCF houses the most dangerous and recalcitrant inmates assigned to long-term involuntary segregation. Also, all male offenders sentenced to the custody of the Secretary of Corrections are received and processed through the EDCF Reception and Diagnostic Unit (RDU). In RDU, inmates receive orientation and are assigned to a custody classification, appropriate programs and a permanent housing assignment. The management and activities at EDCF impact the entire corrections system due to the specialized nature of our operation.

As with other facilities under the management of the Secretary of Corrections, education, health services and food services are provided through contracts with private vendors.

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