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June 30

Uprising at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas

On Thursday, June 29th, prisoners at the El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF) in El Dorado, Kansas staged an uprising, refusing to return to their cells and reportedly taking over sections of the prison including the gym, the kitchen and the yard. The incident began at 10:30 a.m. and was reportedly resolved by Thursday evening, despite statements from the prison guard union that evening that the situation was “not under control.” As of yet, details of what actually occurred behind the prison walls are scarce.

Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig says that no violence or injuries occurred during the uprising, however Robert Choromanski, Executive Director for the Kansas Organization of State Employees told media, “Our Union Stewards have reported to me that with the level of chaos and disturbances at EDCF that there is no way for there to be no injuries.”

According to KAKE news:

Several family members of El Dorado Correctional Facility staff gathered outside the prison Thursday afternoon. They’ve heard inmates are using handmade weapons and have taken over several areas of the prison.

At this point, they want answers.

“We’ve heard several inmates have weapons,” said Victoria Luby. “We’ve heard them call for gloves, size extra large. That usually means someone is hurt; they’re dealing with bodily fluids. There’s perimeters being set.”

One person wanting to remain anonymous shared with KAKE News information they received from their brother who works at the prison.

“The prison official is downplaying what is going on there right now,” the person said, referring to an earlier statement from KDOC Director of Communications Todd Fertig.

KAKE News contacted the Department of Corrections about the rumors. A spokesperson would not confirm or deny them, saying another release from the department would be provided.

As is almost universally the case in prison riots in recent years, EDCF is facing crisis levels of understaffing, causing some posts to go unstaffed, forcing guards to work long shifts and generally increasing the instability of the prison.

According to the Associated Press:

The union has said for weeks that the prison is understaffed, and its inmate population has increased by about 200 inmates over the past three months, to about 1,900. The state has boosted its capacity by double-bunking some cells as it transferred inmates in, including from other prisons.

“The pressure of having fewer staff, more inmates and double-bunking was a recipe for some type of occurrence like this,” said state Rep. J.R. Claeys, the Republican chairman of a budget subcommittee on public safety.

EDCF is located approximately 30 miles east of Wichita, Kansas and houses both maximum and medium security inmates.  It is Kansas’ second largest prison.

kdoc facilities.JPG

According to a prison guard at EDCF who was interviewed under conditions of anonymity, “Processes are starting to fall down, they’re starting to take down basic security measures because they don’t have staffing. We’ve had two riots in the last month and a half.”

According to KWCH News:

The state says El Dorado prison is short staffed by 90 employees.

However, 150 more inmates being transferred here from Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility.

Many cells have been converted from one-bed to two-bed cells to increase capacity.

Starting July 1, employees will start working 12-hour shifts to help cope with the staffing shortage.

The uprising comes just a few days after the announcement by the Kansas Department of Corrections of their plans to move all maximum security inmates from the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility to EDCF. The announcement sparked controversy over issues of overcrowding and instability of the prison.

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