Nomin Ujiyediin

Nomin is a Kansas News Service reporting fellow at KCUR.

Prior to joining the news service, Nomin produced All Things Considered at WNYC in New York City and was a host, producer and reporter at KGOU in Norman, Oklahoma. She has an MA from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where she focused on urban reporting, radio and photography. She also has a BA from Rutgers University. Nomin was a Knight CUNYJ fellow in 2015, and an AIR New Voice fellow in 2017.

In her spare time, Nomin lifts weights, plays video games and tries to contain her bad New Jersey attitude.

The long-troubled foster care system in Kansas got hit with yet another complication over the last year.

Pandemic complications came on top of ongoing fixes mandated by a class-action settlement and simmering pressure to find more homes for children in crisis.

Two bills pending in the Kansas Legislature would slim down penalties for minor drug crimes.

Supporters of the lighter sentences contend the changes would give Kansas more reasonable drug laws and carve away at the state’s prison population.

Opponents told a Kansas House committee this week that the legislation would go too far, discounting that all drug crimes — even relatively small offenses — feed an often-violent illegal drug trade.

Sometimes, Becky Angell doesn’t even realize she’s started crying.

She’s been a nurse for seven years, and worked in an intensive care unit in Olathe for the past two. She loves her job and is used to seeing people die.

But the past months of caring for one desperately ill COVID-19 patient after another have left her overwhelmed and in tears at the dinner table and on the drive home from work.

Leoti Masterson hasn’t seen her son, Jeff, since March. She used to visit him at the Winfield Correctional Facility once a week to play cards, reminisce and pray together, sometimes for hours at a time.

But when the pandemic started, Kansas prisons stopped allowing visitors as a coronavirus precaution. Now, Masterson makes do with daily phone calls no longer than 20 minutes.

“He’s my closest family member,” Masterson said. “So, yeah, this is hard.”

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Most of Wichita attorney Trent Wetta’s clients fall between the ages of 14 and 17, but they can be as young as 10. They typically face misdemeanor charges, such as possession of marijuana or theft, or minor felony charges, like burglary.

It can prove tricky guiding a child through a criminal justice system made by adults with law degrees.


Black and Native American babies in Kansas die at almost twice the rate as white infants in their first year of life.

Out of every 1,000 live births, 11.8 Black and 10.4 Native American babies die before their first birthdays in Kansas. Meanwhile, only 5.6 out of every 1,000 white babies die in that period.

For the first time during the pandemic, Dr. Drew Miller was unable to send a severely ill COVID patient to the intensive care unit.

Miller and other staff at the Kearny County Hospital, in southwestern Kansas, had done what they could last weekend, putting the patient on a maximum oxygen flow. But the closest ICU in the area was one county over — St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City — and it was full. The nearest open ICU bed was in Kansas City, seven hours away.

With the coronavirus pandemic came a flood of stories for the Manhattan Mercury.

The daily newspaper serving a town of nearly 55,000 in a community built around Kansas State University and the Fort Riley U.S. Army base reported on a county commissioner who said there would be no virus cases in the county because there were no Chinese people.

The paper had stories on the city commissioner who hoped everyone would get sick so they could get the pandemic over with.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — For months, the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. But that’s changed.

Leavenworth has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the entire federal prison system, with 206 inmates and five staff members with the virus. There are currently 1,594 people incarcerated at the prison.

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