Sheriff: 'Sweeping Changes' Coming To Sedgwick Co. Jail

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Newly-elected Sheriff Jeff Easter says 'sweeping changes' are coming to the Sedgwick County Jail.

Wednesday morning, Sheriff Easter discussed the recent arrest of Detention Deputy James Conklin, who has since been charged with unlawful sexual relations with two male inmates at the work release center.

After talking about that case, Easter said he's cracking down on other crime in the jail, and looking at all policies concerning jail operations.

Recently, a trafficking operation was discovered in one of the jail pods. It was determined that one inmate was running the operation, which dealt in drugs, cell phone equipment and cigarettes. Charges are pending in that case.

The sheriff said he still isn't sure how the contraband got into the facility in the first place, so he can't be sure there aren't other things such as weapons already inside.

In addition, the sheriff is addressing multiple cases of gang graffiti in various parts of the jail. Easter said crews are in the process of removing the graffiti and charges will be filed if any inmates are caught adding more in the future, which something he said wasn't done in the past.

Policies are also being reviewed concerning what weapons law enforcement officers can bring into the jail booking area. Previously, all weapons were to be kept out for safety reasons, but the sheriff now allows officers to carry some non-lethal weapons, such as batons and tasers, into the jail.

Plans are also underway to install a new camera system in the jail that records; the current system does not. Easter said that plan was already in development under the previous sheriff, Robert Hinshaw.

Sheriff Easter also announced his intention to form a jail committee, with its primary purpose to discuss what improvements can be made. He hopes to have the committee in place by next month.

Easter said to make sure everyone in the jail is held accountable for their actions, and that "inmates don't run the facility, the sheriff does."

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