Kansas prisons chief: Outside protests fuel inmate unrest

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FILE – This March 23, 2011, photo shows the El Dorado Correctional Facility near El Dorado, Kan. Guards at the facility say two previously unreported mass disturbances during which inmates took control for hours of parts of facility preceded a June 2017 prison uprising. Low staffing, overcrowding and general tensions have created dangerous conditions, and […]

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ top prison official says protests outside the walls are helping to fuel unrest in state prisons by inspiring inmates to use mass demonstrations to air grievances.

Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood said in an Associated Press interview that he doesn’t see any other connection between a recent uprising at the Norton Correctional Facility in northwestern Kansas and past disturbances at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado.

Norwood said Tuesday night’s riot in Norton appeared to be spontaneous. Inmates set small fires, smashed windows, threw rocks and were told they could face lethal force.

He said political protests seem to be more common outside of prison and inmates who have some access to television are noticing.

But some lawmakers said inmate transfers or increased double-bunking are contributing to the unrest.

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