State prisons chief declares staffing emergency at lockup

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TOPEKA — Kansas’ prisons chief says a staffing shortage constitutes an emergency at a maximum-security lockup that has seen several recent inmate disturbances, requiring mandatory overtime and shifts as long as 16 hours.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood made that pronouncement in a Tuesday letter to an employee union in rejecting a grievance over long hours at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Mandatory overtime and extended hours are allowed in emergencies under the department’s agreement with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, the union representing prison workers.

The prison moved to 12-hour shifts in June and the union later filed a grievance saying some workers were being required to work 16-hour shifts. The union’s director says the department deliberately held off on declaring an emergency until Tuesday.

 

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