Politics & Government

Unrest at El Dorado prison resolved without injuries

El Dorado Correctional Facility.
El Dorado Correctional Facility. The Wichita Eagle

A protest by prisoners at El Dorado Correctional Facility that lasted several hours on Thursday ended at about 5 p.m. without violence or injuries, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections.

“The situation was resolved with offenders returned to their cells,” a statement released by KDOC spokesman Todd Fertig said.

“At no time during the incident were any weapons accessed by offenders,” it added.

The “disturbance” began at 10:37 a.m. when some prisoners refused to return to their cell houses, said Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, a state workers’ union, in an email to media late Thursday afternoon.

Internal radio traffic at the prison indicated that “the gym, the yard, the Special Security Team office and the kitchen are all under inmate control right now,” Choromanski said in another email. “They are refusing to vacate the area.”

Special Operations Response Teams from prisons at Lansing, Hutchinson and Winfield were sent to El Dorado to assist, Choromanski said.

That is “a normal response in such an incident,” Fertig’s statement said.

“Again, there have been no injuries and no acts of violence, and the facility is secure,” Fertig said in an email early Thursday afternoon.

The Department of Corrections will conduct a review of the incident “and take actions as necessary to prevent further incidents in the future,” Fertig’s statement said.

An email sent out to KDOC staff members at 12:52 p.m. said the facility was on lockdown. The union forwarded the email to The Eagle.

The union has been drawing attention in recent days to staffing conditions at the prison. Workers were given notice last week that 12-hour shifts will begin for some guards on Sunday.

KDOC has acknowledged a “shortage of qualified applicants” in the region surrounding the prison but says recruitment efforts are ongoing.

Jonathan Shorman: 785-296-3006, @jonshorman

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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