Kansas prison guard ‘severely beaten’ by inmate


LANSING, KS (KCTV) — A Lansing Correctional Facility prison guard is in the hospital after taking a beating from an inmate.

Advocates for corrections officers say it could have been prevented if the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) had heeded their pleas for higher staffing numbers.

A KDOC spokeswoman gave limited details about the assault, stating, “a corrections officer was injured by a resident, resulting in the hospitalization of that officer…. The officer is in stable condition.”

The president of the labor union that represents state prison guards went further, saying the female guard, with several years’ experience, ended up in the ICU.

“Very severely beaten,” is how Sarah LaFrenz, president of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, described the corrections officer’s injuries.

She said the guard was working solo in a pod of more than 100 prisoners and it was other inmates who first came to her aid.

“There were at least two others who got the guy, the inmate who was attacking her, off of her and then called for an alarm to alert the rest of the facility that this was occurring,” LaFrenz described.

A year and a half ago, prisoners were relocated from the Civil War era Lansing Prison to a new facility, touting improved security systems and more efficient staffing among other things.

The Kansas Legislative Research Department reported that when pitching the move to the 2017 legislative session, “KDOC asserted the new facility will reduce the need for staff, generating savings over time.”

When transfers began in 2020, the KDOC shared a photo of one of 15 128-person living units, sometimes called pods. LaFrenz said the guard attacked Wednesday was the only one working in the pod she was assigned to.

“When you have one person dealing with 127 incarcerated individuals, as you can tell, statistically speaking, that’s already really pretty poor odds if something goes wrong,” said LaFrenz. “One person is not enough. You need at least two to three.”

She said officers and the union have been asking for that change with no success.

Sure, there might be staffing shortages like everywhere else, and it’s clear they’re trying to hire. A big billboard along the highway by the prison advertises that they are hiring.

But LaFrenz says the KDOC has told her that the new building was designed to accommodate the kind of staff-to-inmate ratio her union finds unacceptable.

“I don’t care how it was designed. That’s dangerous. That’s incorrect. And that sets people up for failure and very bad outcomes like what we saw yesterday,” she exclaimed.

KCTV5 contacted the KDOC spokeswoman with a list of claims made by the union and asked for a response. She declined and referred us to the initial statement she sent, which reads as follows:

Investigators with the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) are investigating an incident at the Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF) that occurred on the evening of November 3, 2021. In this incident, a corrections officer was injured by a resident, resulting in the hospitalization of that officer.

This is an ongoing investigation, and upon its conclusion the findings will be presented to the appropriate authorities for possible criminal prosecution.

The officer is in stable condition and health privacy laws do not permit the release of additional health information to the media.

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