Corrections officer hospitalized after inmate attack at Lansing Correctional Facility
A corrections officer at Lansing Correctional Facility was hospitalized after being injured by an inmate, the Kansas Department of Corrections said Thursday.
The agency provided few details about the attack, but KDOC spokesperson Carol Pitts said in an email that the officer was in stable condition after the incident, which occurred Wednesday. Further information on their health status won't be released due to health privacy laws, Pitts said.
"This is an ongoing investigation, and upon its conclusion the findings will be presented to the appropriate authorities for possible criminal prosecution," Pitts said.
Sen. Jeff Pittman, D-Leavenworth, whose district includes the prison, confirmed in a social media post that the officer had been stabilized in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
The Kansas Organization of State Employees, the union representing state corrections officers, said the attack occurred around afternoon shift change Wednesday evening and that the officer was "punched repeatedly in the face and head" and sustained facial fractures, broken bones and possibly a serious head injury.
Union president Sarah LaFrenz said in a statement that the attack underscored a need to improve employee pay and working conditions, arguing the attack "cements the fact that KDOC’s decisions clearly put the lives of state employees at risk."
"The events of Wednesday night that landed a corrections officer in the emergency room are a terrible tragedy and stem directly from the poor management decisions at Lansing Correctional Facility and the Kansas Department of Corrections," LaFrenz said. "KDOC must address the staffing issues and abysmal working conditions at its facilities or more dangerous situations like this one will continue to occur."
The incident comes after the death of a prison guard in a traffic accident last month, which advocates say was attributable to fatigue from working overtime at El Dorado Correctional Facility.
The staff shortage is at the "top of the list of challenges" at the Kansas Department of Corrections, Secretary Jeff Zmuda said Wednesday in a memo to residents and families in late October, adding the "current workforce challenges are unlike anything anyone can recall."
Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 443-979-6100.