Former staff, union reps say tension was growing in El Dorado prison

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) – Since the lockdown  at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, KSN has been getting calls from former staff members in the prison wanting to weigh in on the incident.

Many are saying that what happened yesterday is no surprise, and they worry it could happen again.

“You try to redirect and resolve situations all the time and sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you would like it to turn out.”

She didn’t want to share her name – but a woman who called KSN said she used to be a correctional officer at the facility.

She said she often saw under-staffing, forcing exhausting hours, which impacted the environment.

“I am not going to lie it can be scary at times.”

She said  the lockdown hit at home with her. She worries about the Correctional officers and inmates.

She said, “I absolutely loved my job as a corrections officer and if I could go back then I would. But I can’t because my husband is in there.“

But she said he’s not a part of the staff, “Yes, yes, as an (husband) inmate.”

She said her husband had been anticipating something like this to happen.

“He said the day before yesterday that it was about to jump off in there. The vernacular for those people, like he felt like the situation was getting hair and I wanted to let you know baby that it is about to jump off.”

Those that represent the union say many of the issues happened after prisoners were transferred to El Dorado from Lansing.

“And so all the prisoners at Lansing had more freedoms and more privileges and so they rebelled and protested,” said Robert Choromanski from the Kansas Organization of State Employees.

Robert Choromanski represents staff that work inside the prison and said the additional prisoners left staff even more on edge.

According to the KDOC website, the correctional facility in El Dorado has an inmate capacity of 1,955 and already they’re at nearly 1,900 inmates.

Choromanksi said with the more than 120 staff vacancies, staff to inmate ratio is 1-60 even 1-100 at times.

He said with correctional officers dealing with low pay, and more inmate transfers coming in, in an already crowded prison, the situation is getting ugly.

“It is a slap in the face to every hard-working correctional officer in the state of Kansas, especially El Dorado. The public should be lucky that no violent inmate escaped from that facility yesterday,” said Choromanski.

He said another factor he believes is contributing to this is recent attempts by the governor to privatize another prison, which he said is causing stress among inmates inside and CO’S.

KSN reached out to KDOC who say they have no more updates about yesterday’s incident.