Staff shortages in a Kansas maximum security correctional facility have resulted in dramatic increases in cell confinement and decreased accessibility to programs for its incarcerated population, reported the Associated Press.
Kansas Department of Corrections spokesperson Carol Pitts said that the problems are system-wide, but that the biggest challenge is at the state’s El Dorado Correctional Facility in Butler County.
A Sept. 15 memo sent to inmates and their families by Corrections Department Secretary Jeff Zmuda said that staff shortages “top the list of the challenges we face.” The state is emphasizing recruiting efforts to alleviate the problem.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that the incarcerated population fell during the pandemic, and that some housing units were closed to reduce the need for staff.
The El Dorado facility faced staffing shortages prior to the COVID pandemic, and has been the site of past unrest. Gov. Laura Kelly has declared an emergency at the facility on two occasions, once in 2017 and again in 2019, both times due to staffing shortages.