The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 5, 1996 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, October 5, 1996
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Page 7
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THE SALINA JOURNAL GREAT PLAINS SATURDAY, OCTOBERS, 1996 A7 Taj in the hall TOM DORSEY / The Salina Journal Jasmine Pumphrey, Phlllipsburg, warms up In Ag Hall on Friday morning with her Arabian, Jasmine's Ta], in Kenwood Park, Salina. Pumphrey was preparing to compete in the Salina Charity Horse Show later Friday afternoon. The horse show will continue today and Sunday, beginning each day at 9 a.m. T PRISON DISTURBANCES Prison inmates have a long list of grievances Inmate protests began in September in Lansing, : Norton and Hutchinson ' :By The Associated Press : ; TOPEKA — When some inmates Ifirst skipped meals and refused to ;go to work, Department of Correc- •Jions officials thought the prisoners were protesting only the quali- • ty of food services. • , But the department now has a •long list of complaints about policies, including fees for medical care and telephone restrictions. And two attorneys suggest some inmates also are dissatisfied with living two to a cell. ; ."Suffice it to say there are a riumber of issues unrelated to food service that they have now raised," said Corrections Secretary Charles Simmons. Inmate protests started Sept. 26 ;and occurred in Norton, Lansing ;and Hutchinson. About 900 inmates remained locked in their cells this weekend in the state's maximum-security complex at Lansing, a response to them breaking glass, setting small fires and throwing hard objects out Some of the grievances Kansas prison Inmates have Hated Include: • Double-celling • In June 1995, the state began putting two inmates in cells at its rnaxirnum*security,prison outside El Dorado. • Service Fees In January 1995, the Department of Corrections began charging ' inmates $1 a month to service their accounts, where they deposit their pay. The department also began charging $2 for each use of medical services. • Telephones Inmates can make" telephone calls from inside an institution to one of only 10 numbers they designate: A computer system blocks calls to numbers not on ah inmate's approved list. * Sentencing Laws , The, 1996 Legislature approved changes in ! sentencing guidelines that decreased the penalties fbfsbme drug • .'offenses.' Many, inmates wonder whether.the'changes apply to them retroactively. • Food Service In April, the department signed a contract with Canteen Corrections Services, under which it provides food at state prisons. Inmates complain about the quality of the food, as well as the quantity. An example would be a lack of condiments, such as catsup, with hamburgers. of cells. In an unrelated incident, 19 Norton inmates locked themselves inside a unit used to discipline minimum- and medium-security inmates for nearly six hours Thursday night before surrendering peacefully. Simmons said three inmates instigated the problems, apparently because they were upset over receiving disciplinary reports. Gov. Bill Graves acknowledged that the department has enacted tougher management policies at state prisons since he took office in January 1995. But he expressed little sympathy with inmates' complaints. "Prison is not intended to be a pleasurable experience," Graves said. "Those policies are not negotiable. We feel like they are appropriate, and the best way to avoid having to deal with the consequences of those policies is to not commit crimes and go to prison." The disturbances came at a time when the corrections system is more crowded than it has been in recent years. The department reported a record number of inmates in its custody — more than 7,500 — at the end of September. Earlier this year, the department began putting two inmates in cells in Lansing's medium-security complex because of continuing increases in the state's inmate population. Eventually, the department could have two inmates in as many as 280 cells there. An April 1989 federal court order had forced the state to abandon "double-celling" at Lansing. However, after an improvement in prison conditions, U.S. District Judge Richard Rogers agreed in December 1995 to allow the practice again. Simmons mentioned double- celling as one of the inmates' complaints, and two attorneys suggested it has increased tensions in the inmate population. William Rich, a Washburn University law professor who represented inmates in a class-action lawsuit over prison conditions, and Steve Kessler, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners, said inmates do not like the practice. Kessler noted that not only does putting two inmates in each cell restrict prisoners' space, it raises questions'* about the adequacy of recreation space and bathrooms. In addition, he said, inmates do not believe they have much choice of cellmates. "The more people you get, the more complaints you get about the housing, the facilities, the medical care," Kessler said. Rich said of the department: "They're continuing to figure out new ways to' put more inmates in the space they have." 2 in hospital after house explodes Overland Park women tried to rescue their pets before explosion By The Associated Press OVERLAND PARK — Clothing, videotapes and other personal belongings were strewn across the lawn as investigators Friday tried to pinpoint the cause of a huge gas explosion that reduced a house to rubble and damaged several others. "I thought a plane had crashed right next door," said Dee Anderson, who lives near the destroyed house. "Of course, I ran out. I couldn't see anything, then I saw the plume of smoke." The explosion shattered the calm Thursday evening for people living in the cluster of houses at the end of a cul-de-sac in suburban Kansas City. Workers apparently either poked a hole in a natural gas line or cut through it entirely. They were cutting a trench behind the house. Two women in the house remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Columbia Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Amy Clipp, 23, was in critical condition while Jean Hornbeck, 70, was in stable and fair condition. After cutting into the 3-inch gas line, the two workers ran to the house to notify the people there. They got out, but went back in to get pets just before the explosion. The pets, cockatiel birds, were missing Friday. >• Find out what there is to see and do in Kansas! Attend the Seventh Annual KANSAS SAMPLER FESTIVAL! < M Sat., Oct. 5, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. " Sun., Oct. 6,10 a.m. - 4 p.m. ^ on the Penner Farm 3 miles south, 1 3/4 east of Inman on Arapaho Road Daily admission: Adults, $4; Children 7-11, $2 \\ Call 316/585-2374 Norton prison returns to normal Inmates barricaded themselves in unit and started small fires By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING : Tile Salina Journal ; NORTON — Conditions had re- 'turned to normal Friday at the iNorton Correctional Facility after i!9 inmates barricaded themselves !in a housing unit and started sev- ieral small fires. '. They were taken into custody several hours later without resistance. There were no injuries and no escapes during the disturbance. ; Ruby Pflieger, public information officer at the prison, said the disturbance started at 6:35 p.m. Thursday in the restriction unit, an area that temporarily houses inmates who have broken prison rules. A prisoner typically loses privileges in the unit, including movies and television. In response, prison officials recalled workers — Pflieger worked through the night Thursday — and evacuated about 140 inmates from their living quarters because of smoke from the fires. The prison's capacity is 500 inmates. About half of the evacuated prisoners were returned to their units by 10:45 p.m. The remainder remained under staff supervision in the gymnasium until security and maintenance staff could complete a damage assessment. They were returned to their units at 2 a.m. The 19 inmates from the restriction unit were transferred to other state correctional facilities. Pflieger said she couldn't comment on a reason for the disturbance until an investigation by the Kansas Department of Corrections is finished. A determination of charges also will be made after the investigation. Called in to help with the disturbance were law officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol and sheriffs departments in Norton and Phillips counties and personnel from correctional facilities in Ellsworth and Hutchinson. Graves not ready to end privatization HMRRYt SALE ENDS By The Associated Press ; TOPEKA — Gov. Bill Graves jdoes not plan to penalize the pri- 'vate company that serves food to inmates at state prisons because :he believes problems that led to '.disturbances can be worked out. ' Inmates at prisons in Norton, Hutchinson and Lansing began protesting 'against what they jconsidered poor food service last 'week. At Lansing, 'those protests included property .destruction and ;caused officials •there to lock 900 maximum-securi- 'ty inmates in their cells. ; But Graves and Corrections Sec- ;retary Charles Simmons said state •.officials were working with Can•teen Corrections Services for sev- !eral weeks before the incidents to liron out problems. Canteen is a di;vision of a North Carolina compa- •ny, Compass Group USA. ' "You can be assured that the •corporate officials are well aware ,'of, the need to very quickly resolve : whatever those concerns might ;be," Graves told reporters during •aStatehouse news conference. < -The department signed a con! tract with Canteen in April in an ! effort to save money. The agency "estimates the contract will save the state $1 million or more a year over five years. But inmates have complained about changes because of the contract. Department spokesman Bill Miskell said those complaints include the size of portions, a change from fried chicken to baked chicken in menus and a lack of condiments with hamburgers. Simmons attributed some problems to what he described as poor judgment by local company workers. He said the company plans to bring in managers quickly to resolve the problems. Graves said: "These people have contracts with a variety of correc- tions organizations around this country, and in putting together the purchasing agreement, the background was checked. To the extent that there are shortcomings right now, we want them resolved immediately. "We are comfortable that' they are capable of doing that. Their history of providing food service elsewhere tells us that it's possible. We're going to ask that they do that." Graves also said he has no intention of backing away from initiatives to turn the operation of some government services over to private companies. Our Grand Opening Celebration Is Still Going On! Everything In The Store Is On Sale! Now Through October 5,1996 EM&K Carpet Warehouse! 833 E. 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