Roger Werholtz, Kansas Secretary of Corrections, confirms to KSN News prisoners have been moved within El Dorado Correctional facility.
Cell block D inmates have been moved to cell block A.
“It’s a more secure building,” said Werholtz. “The inmates that were previously in D. I hate to generalize too much, but we were having a great deal of behavioral problems and threats being issued. Disruptive behavior coming primarily from D.”
El Dorado Correctional remains 89 security officers from being fully staffed.
The move was made for security reasons, according to officials.
Some family members are not happy.
“A block had phones on the wall, and he could call home any time he wanted to call,” says Sue.
Sue is not her real name because she does not want to be identified. Her boyfriend is in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.
“He has to do his time, and I’ve made it clear. No more drugs,” said Sue. “But it’s not ok they have moved them (A block inmates) into D block.”
Sue says her boyfriend has a job inside the prison five days a week. She says he pays a small amount each month to the prison for room and board, and he keeps out of trouble.
She doesn’t like the move and says her boyfriend is a perfect candidate to be moved out of max security El Dorado.
Secretary Werholtz says they look at each inmate on an individual basis, but he adds moving inmates to other facilities is not really an option they can rely on.
Secretary Werholtz says the entire prison system is full, so moving prisoners out is a challenge. and the staffing challenge remains a problem.
“We’re always concerned that when we’re understaffed,” said Secretary Werholtz. “But I have to remain hopeful. The alternative is not acceptable.”
Some family members are already asking when the cell block switch will go back to the way it was.
“In A block, they (former D block inmates) now have phones in their rooms,” says Sue. “The ones in A block (now in D block) are being punished.”
Sue says he D block house does not have phones on the walls.
Secretary Werholtz says getting things fixed will take time, so they are evaluating each day what is the best practice at El Dorado as well as other state prisons in Kansas.
“It’s very labor intensive to lock things down for an extended period of time, and as you know, we are already stretched about as far as we can stretch,” added Werholtz. “But for now, a lot it all is going to hinge on how folks in A (former D block) are going to behave.”
Werholtz and others have brought the issues to Governor Laura Kelly and lawmakers to request more money for the system. Lawmakers are considering what to do next.