Official: Inmate uprising resolved at El Dorado prison

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EL DORADO, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Latest on inmates refusing to return to their cells at a maximum-security prison in Kansas (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

A union representing Kansas state employees is questioning KDOC claims of no injuries by either staff or inmates after a disturbance some called a riot at a Kansas prison.

"Our Union Stewards have reported to me that with the level of chaos and disturbances at EDCF that there is no way for there to be no injuries," said Robert Choromanski, Executive Director for the Kansas Organization of State Employees.

Choromanski told KAKE's Greg Miller that they believe approximately 120 positions are open at the facility. That number had doubled since April. Other employees site low morale, ineffective leadership and dangerous practices for so many resignations.

Family members of those employees inside the facility Thursday had gathered at a private parking lot across the street. Many of them said there have been several incidents at the prison in the last few weeks, and that they're worried about safety for guards.

"Am I going to see him at home or pick him up at the hospital?" asked Victoria Luby, spouse of an employee.

Others say multiple vacant positions have created the security problem in the facility.

"There's not enough staff to take care of the people that are actually in there right now," said Cherise Hamilton, daughter of an employee. "I hope everyone is okay. This is a really, really bad day."

Officials report the incident was resolved about 5 p.m. It began with what authorities call a refusal by a group of inmates to return to their cell areas. 

5:35 p.m. 

The Kansas Department of Corrections says a disturbance at El Dorado Correctional Facility was resolved about 5 p.m. Thursday. 

"No injuries to staff or to offenders occurred," said Todd Fertig, Director of Communications for the KDOC. "At no time during the incident were any weapons accessed by offenders."

The incident began about earlier in the afternoon when a group of inmates at the facility refused to return to their cell areas. 

Support personnel were called in from KDOC facilities in Hutchinson and Ellsworth. 

The El Dorado Correctional Facility is the state's second largest prison. It's about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Wichita.

KDOC will conduct a review of the event and take actions as necessary to prevent further incidents in the future.

4:35 p.m.

The leader of a union that represents Kansas corrections workers says he's receiving reports that inmates still control parts of a maximum-security prison in southern Kansas.

Robert Choromanski is executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees. He said in an email Thursday afternoon that a prison worker said areas under inmate control at the El Dorado prison include the gym, the yard and the kitchen.

The Department of Corrections said some inmates are refusing to return to their cells but that the prison has been secured. Department spokesman Todd Fertig says there have been no reports of violence or injuries. He says he's awaiting more details about the incident.

The El Dorado Correctional Facility is the state's second largest prison. It's about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Wichita.

The Associated Press provided this update.

4:20 p.m.

Several family members of El Dorado Correctional Facility staff gathered outside the prison Thursday afternoon. They've heard inmates are using handmade weapons and have taken over several areas of the prison. 

At this point, they want answers.

"We've heard several inmates have weapons," said Victoria Luby. "We've heard them call for gloves, size extra large. That usually means someone is hurt; they're dealing with bodily fluids. There's perimeters being set."

One person wanting to remain anonymous shared with KAKE News information they received from their brother who works at the prison. 

"The prison official is downplaying what is going on there right now," the person said, referring to an earlier statement from KDOC Director of Communications Todd Fertig. 

KAKE News contacted the Department of Corrections about the rumors. A spokesperson would not confirm or deny them, saying another release from the department would be provided.

3:30 p.m.

The Kansas Department of Corrections says some inmates refused to return to their cells at the state's maximum-security prison, but no violence or injuries have been reported.

KAKE News received several messages and phone calls throughout the morning and early afternoon from people asking about a possible riot at the prison. 

Todd Fertig, KDOC Director of Communications, said a group of inmates refused to return to their assigned cell houses Thursday morning. 

"The facility is secure, and measures to return the offenders to the cell houses are ongoing. KDOC will then conduct a review of the incidents," Fertig said. "Again, there have been no injuries and no acts of violence, and the facility is secure."

KAKE News crews on scene at the facility did see one unmarked vehicle go inside and while secure, the DOC says as of late afternoon not all those inmates had returned to their cells. 

The union representing prison workers says it has received reports from corrections officers that the prison has been on lockdown.

The Kansas Organization of State Employees has said in the past that the prison is understaffed and its officers are being required to work 12-hour shifts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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