Former El Dorado inmate talks about lockdown and officer shortages

Local

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) – William Jewett is out of prison. He freely admits he has been in and out of prison for drug crimes and other offenses.

But he wanted to talk to KSN News about the officer shortage at El Dorado Correctional where he was in the max cell block A.

“Me being in prison is my punishment,” said Jewett. “But I feel like I have to speak out. We don’t have a voice. How many people be getting out of prison and then talking to you?”

Jewett says more officers are needed and says that’s part of the reason the prison had cell block A on restricted movement with inmates in their cells up to 23 hours a day.

“I’ve been in the joint a couple times. This ain’t my first time. I’ve done a lot time,” said Jewett. “But I’ve never seen putting people on lockdown just because you’re short-staffed. It’s not our fault we don’t have nothing to do with that.”

The El Dorado warden says, while they do need more officers, the facility still has behavior issues.

“Yes, we still have a need for officers who can come in here and do a good job for us,” said Warden Sam Cline. “But we continue to have some behavior problems in A block.”

Cline says they have made progress moving away from lockdown or restrictive movement as it is called now.

“Being an officer, a good officer, is difficult and I would say at times even a bit of an art form,” said Cline. “Very difficult, I can’t minimize that, to make actions that are effective to manage behavior is not an easy task.”

Cline says half of max cell block A is now out during the day. Half are out in the yard and some are now going to jobs during the day once again.

But Cline says that’s a challenge when they try to work on being a corrections facility that is busy managing inmates.

Jewett says being in a cell up to 23 hours with essentially one hour of phone use a day to call family is exactly what it sounds like. But he claims not everyone in the max A block should be there.

“There’s been dudes down in there (restrictive movement) that hadn’t had a write up in over a year,” said Jewett.

He says being written up is usually a sign an inmate is not doing what they should. He also believes that is a reason why an inmate could end up in a restrictive movement cell block.

“But some of those cats in (restrictive movement) nothing is wrong with them at all and they’re still down there.” said Jewett. “They’re still down there wondering when they are going to get out of there.”

The warden says they are working as fast as they can to sort out what he calls those who need to stay in restrictive movement and those who can be trusted once again with more movement. But he also says part of the El Dorado Correctional continues to show progress with the current level of staffing.

He is also hopeful the state will send more money to attract more officers.

“We lost four officers recently because they took better paying jobs or jobs where they feel they would have a different career path,” says Cline. “I can not fault them for that.  We are very hopeful that the action in the state legislature along with the support of Governor Kelly will yield us a more competitive starting wage, and we really hope that as people see our facility they will see it has opportunity for promotions.”

Jewett says he felt the need to speak out. But he also says he is now working on himself.

“Drugs equal jail. Straight up. Drugs equal jail so that’s not even an option,” said Jewett. “Drugs can’t be an option. Not for me anyway it can’t be an option.”

Jewett is hopeful he will have a job soon, and is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and daughter.

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