The Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas Department of Corrections

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration plans to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to Kansas prison inmates this week, ignoring a call from the Republican-controlled Legislature to postpone their inoculations so that others can get them first.

TOPEKA — An inmate at Larned Correctional Facility has died from COVID-19 — the fifth state prison inmate to die from the coronavirus since the pandemic began, the Kansas Department of Corrections announced Thursday.

Junior Lee Chrismon, 68, died in a hospital Monday. Chrisman, who was serving a 52-month sentence on drug charges out of Montgomery County, tested positive Aug. 15 and also had underlying health conditions, the agency said.

Michael Coghlan / flickr Creative Commons

KANSAS CITY — A Kansas prison has been locked down due to a coronavirus outbreak affecting nearly 100 inmates and staff at the facility, the government announced Wednesday.

Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Jeff Zmuda said none of the 84 inmates and 10 staff members at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility who tested positive this week are showing symptoms. Fifteen inmates and seven staff members previously tested positive at the prison, which houses about 1,880 men.

Michael Coghlan / flickr Creative Commons

BELLE PLAINE — A Kansas court has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a civil rights rights group seeking the immediate release of prisoners who have preexisting medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the new coronavirus.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Gov. Laura Kelly said Wednesday that she’s still considering releasing some Kansas inmates early because of the coronavirus pandemic even though an outbreak of hundreds of cases has one prison under quarantine.

Kelly confirmed last week during an Associated Press interview that the Department of Corrections moved six inmates from state to house arrest before being forced to stop early releases because of an outbreak at the Lansing Correctional Facility outside Kansas City. As of Wednesday, 609 inmates and 88 staff members there were infected.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The coronavirus has arrived at a third correctional facility in Kansas, taking total infections among inmates and corrections staff statewide to 89, state officials said Tuesday.

The Kansas Department of Corrections said a worker tested positive Monday for COVID-19 at the the Topeka Correctional Facility, the state’s only all-female prison.

Michael Coghlan / flickr Creative Commons

Three Kansas prison workers have contracted the coronavirus in the first cases reported in the state's prison system amid an outbreak that has one cash-strapped health system slashing pay.

The Department of Corrections announced Tuesday night in a news release that the three employees at the Lansing Correctional Facility are recovering at home. Inmates who had close contact with the workers have been moved to medical isolation where they will be monitored for symptoms.

TOPEKA, Kansas — From 2000 to 2019, the women’s prison population in Kansas rose by 60%. Over the same time period, the men’s population rose by only 14%.

That outpaces national trends over the past two decades, according to a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

TOPEKA, Kansas — The new Medicaid expansion bill, the product of a compromise between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and some Republican leaders, would change how state prisons and county jails fund health care for prisoners.

A 73-year-old Kansas prison dental instructor accused of sexually abusing inmates goes on trial Monday.

Tomas Co, 73, taught inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility, the state’s only women’s prison. He faces six felony counts in Shawnee County of unlawful sexual relations for allegedly kissing students, touching them inappropriately and commenting on their appearances. He was removed from his job in 2018.

Nomin Ujiyediin of the Kansas News Service interviewed the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Sherman Smith, who broke the story in 2019 and will be following the trial. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.