Kansas prisons in crisis, new chief says


State News

January 31, 2019 - 10:15 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ new prisons chief is suggesting to legislators that the state corrections system is in crisis, and his briefings are leading lawmakers in both parties to conclude that they haven’t previously had a full picture of inmate riots and other problems.

Interim Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz also said Wednesday that an increased use of “double-bunking,” or housing two inmates to a cell, was a factor in riots in 2017 and 2018. Department of Corrections officials had previously dismissed a potential link.

Werholtz, who served as corrections secretary from December 2002 through 2010, returned to the job earlier this month when Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly took office. Under Republican Govs. Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer, the department acknowledged staffing problems but then-Secretary Joe Norwood said serious disturbances were unconnected and the inmate population generally was under control.

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