Kansas moves 100 inmates after prison disturbance

Norton Correctional Facility (Courtesy: Kansas Department of Corrections)

NORTON, Kan. (KSNW and AP) – A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman says it has transferred 100 inmates from a prison in the state’s northwest following a disturbance there.

Spokesman Samir Arif said Wednesday that the inmates were moved from the Norton Correctional Facility to other Kansas prisons.

“We are moving them around to several facilities in the state,” says Arif. “We don’t want to tax any, single prison in Kansas.”

Kansas Organization of State Employees Executive Director, Robert Choromanski, says several detention officers at the facility are calling it a major disturbance.

“Several of them (officers) are talking, but they don’t want to be identified,” says Choromanski. “They say cell block A has a lot of smoke damage. Several mattresses were lit on fire. Several of the officers worked through the night to ensure proper security.”

Arif says the disturbance at Norton began Tuesday night when an inmate or inmates set fire to a mattress in a housing unit and as many as 250 inmates spilled into the yard. He said inmates broke into a tool shed and smashed several prison windows.

Arif says two staff members suffered minor injuries that required no medical attention.

Choromanski is now calling for legislators to call for a special session to fix what he calls, a legitimate crisis.

“So this is an absolutely emergency crisis that needs to be resolved, and I don’t think can wait until January,” says Choromanski. “I just got a report yesterday that there were five inmate stabbings in the month of August at Hutchinson Correctional Facility. Plus, on Monday, an officer got badly injured or battered at El Dorado Correctional Facility as well, which was not reported to the news. I just found out about it. An officer had to get medical treatment and they had to put the B2 cell house on lockdown for the rest of the day. So this is not just El Dorado anymore or Lansing or Norton or Hutchinson. This is a systemic problem that is occurring at all the facilities.”

But, a special session may be a tough sell. Two-thirds of all lawmakers would have to sign off on a special session.

“A special session opens up a pandoras box it really can be a free-for-all for whatever anybody wants to bring up,” says Representative Chuck Weber, R-Wichita. “So, I think the governor has addresses this minimally right now. We are going to get through this crisis and get to January. And we need to get our corrections officers more money, there’s no doubt about that.”

Weber says El Dorado corrections officers are getting a 10-percent pay raise and all other corrections officers are getting a 5-percent pay raise. He says lawmakers will find more money for the system, because he believes it’s a priority.

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