Employees worried about safety at Lansing Correctional Facility
LANSING, Kan. – It has been almost two weeks since a correctional facility officer was brutally assaulted by an inmate at Lansing Correctional Center.
Sarah LaFrenz, president of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the guard was struck when an inmate attached a padlock to a belt.
LaFrenz said the guard had multiple fractures in his face and was concerned about brain damage.
Employees say headcount is the main culprit and say they have become dangerously low.
Staffing is a problem and is a burden on prisons across the country, and current Lansing Correctional Facility staff say it is no different there.
“But when we are under staffing, there comes a point where lives are at risk,” said Roger Baughman, an LCF employee.
Baughman is a correctional officer at the facility and says he recently went on medical leave due to work-related stress over safety concerns.
He says he has raised security concerns about staffing levels for months.
“[I’m] Always on alert, always on guard, ”he said. “It was only a matter of time before something bad happened.”
He’s not the only one to hoist the red flag.
Greg Peters, a former First Sgt. In Lansing Correctional Facility, retired after 20 years in Lansing.
Peters has been organizing protests outside of prison for the past week.
“To tell them we need help there and tell them it’s an unsafe place to work,” said Peters.
Baughman says there is often only one officer per 125 inmate capsule, which he believes was the case when his colleague was attacked.
“Two other inmates had to pull the attacking inmate away from her, and then they used their radio to sound the alarm and call for help,” he said. “Because she had no partner there, there were no other officers or superiors to help her or call for help.”
Baughman says fighting has become daily occurrences and they are understaffed, sometimes more than a dozen officers per shift.
Concerned about the retention, he says new officer experiences and people who are burned out are a problem.
“I’m worried it will happen again,” he said.
Baughman says he will continue to ask for reforms, senior officers, and pay rises.
KSHB 41 has contacted the Lansing Corrections Facility several times and has not received a response to our request for comment.
It is unclear whether charges were brought against the detainee involved in the attack.
LaFrenz of the Kansas Organization of State Employees issued the following statement to KSHB 41 News:
“The brutal attack on the inmates was twelve days ago. The Kansas Department of Corrections and the management of LCF have not changed a policy that would make our law enforcement officers safer at work or resolve their staffing problems. 12 more days these units have been dangerously understaffed. For 12 days the workers we represent at this facility have been wondering when the next attack will come and whether they will bleed on the ground. As I have said before, and I will say it forever, the rights and safety of the people we represent are of the utmost importance. Our union will never stop pushing government officials and lawmakers to do whatever they can to protect the health and safety of government employees and to keep these facilities safely staffed. It is imperative, and long overdue, that KDOC, the Government of Governor Kelly and the Kansas State Legislature act now to protect these workers. You had years to resolve the problems that led to this latest attack and the situation has only gotten worse. You have to do better, and you have to do it now. ”