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Crime and Courts

State Officials Refute Topeka Women’s Prison Report

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio

Governor Sam Brownback’s administration is refuting a federal report criticizing management and conduct at a Topeka women’s prison.

A letter from the U.S. Justice Department alleges there are serious problems at the Topeka Correctional Facility, including sexual misconduct by staff and prisoner abuse. Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts says the letter doesn’t take into account improvements made at the facility.

I was pretty surprised when I saw that, because I personally toured the facility, made recommendations,” says Roberts. “I know there has been tremendous progress made in policy and procedures.”

He says improvements include the hiring of more staff, more training and increased security. Topeka Correctional Facility Warden Hope Cooper says she has focused on creating a new culture at the prison.

“One of professionalism, one of accountability and one of reliability,” she says. “We label that being up to par, and so the staff here know that those are my expectations, I have very high expectations.”

Cooper says all claims of misconduct are investigated. She says since the beginning of 2011, there have been no substantiated claims of misconduct by staff and one claim of sexual abuse committed by an inmate. Governor Brownback says there were problems at the prison when he took office.