© 2022 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Crime and Courts

Between 75 And 150 Inmates Involved In Disturbance At El Dorado Prison

prison_bars.png
MICHAEL COGHLAN / CREATIVE COMMONS-FLICKR
/

Inmates broke dozens of windows and set fires during a weekend disturbance at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado, the scene of other incidents last summer, officials said Monday.

Nobody was hurt in the fracas that started around noon Sunday in the prison's recreation yard and lasted about four hours, said Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Samir Arif. Between 75 and 150 inmates were involved.

State employees union president Sarah LaFrenz says a corrections officer who witnessed what happened told her about 40 windows were broken. She said two classrooms had fire and smoke damage, and one other building was set on fire.

The officer also told LaFrenz that inmates got access to radio communication devices from the classrooms and an office.

There was "much more damage" than what occurred at the facility during a disturbance there last year, she said. The Butler County Sheriff's Office and Kansas Highway Patrol established a perimeter, and prison officials were able to establish control inside the prison quicker than in the past, she said.

"This was a very bad situation, and we were very lucky that there weren't any injuries," LaFrenz said. "It was very significant and very frightening and incredibly dangerous for everyone involved."

Arif confirmed there were broken windows, as well as smoke and fire damage, but provided no specifics because the investigation was ongoing. He says the prison will remain on lockdown until cleanup is finished, noting all the broken glass lying around following the disturbance.

Prison officials are still investigating what set off the disturbance, but LaFrenz said it apparently began after an inmate in the yard who had refused to comply with directions was restrained and moved. The other inmates on the yard then started the disturbance.

The prison's daily average population in 2017 was 1,657.