Union: Revoked shower privileges led to prison uprising in El Dorado

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Emergency logs on the day of an uprising incident at El Dorado Correctional Facility, obtained by KAKE News, show the inmates involved did possess some type of weapons when they defied the orders of guards to return to their cells. 

A source said that the trigger for the chaos was when shower access was taken away.

The logs reveal that, among other things, multiple inmates were fighting in the West Yard at 12:07pm on June 29, and that one of them nearby had a weapon.

There was heavy damage to several areas of the prison that day, though the Department of Corrections said no one was injured.

But the union representing workers, the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said based off of conversations with its members, there were injuries to inmates.

Executive Director Robert Garamowski said he was shocked to learn that the administration had restricted any access to showers, after inmates had already been outside for scheduled work that morning.

"The warden wanted to run the prison like a military installation," he said. "Everything had to be on time."

While some called the June 29 incident a riot, the Department of Corrections still insists it isn't the case.

The agency released a statement to KAKE News - "We consider the log book an internal document that contains security information that is not subject to public disclosure and which is part of the ongoing investigation of the events of June 29."

Kansas Department of Corrections Spokesman Todd Fertig maintained that no inmates ever possessed any KDOC weapons. He would not confirm or deny whether they used handmade weapons, saying the investigation was still ongoing.

At an event recognizing inmate re-entry Thursday in El Dorado, Secretary of Corrections Joe Norwood spoke about the incident, though he didn't address accusations of the Union.

"Staff were able to resolve it without substantial violence of any nature," Norwood said. "Without injuries to staff or any inmates."

He believes a transfer of maximum security inmates to Lansing was the trouble behind the uprising. That they weren't accustomed to stricter rules and reacted by refusing to return to their cells.

"We've addressed the communication issues with the inmates and the staff, and that's addressed most of the issues there," he said.

The agency revealed that more guards are being hired, though at least 90 positions are still open at the facility.

Workers inside don't believe Norwood or others in Topeka believe the whole truth.

"They think the warden and everybody in El Dorado are shielding critical information," Garamowski said.

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