A report from the U.S. Justice Department says conditions at the state women's prison violate the civil rights of inmates. A scathing letter sent to Governor Sam Brownback and Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts outlines alleged shortcomings at the Topeka Correctional Facility. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more.
The letter says the Kansas Department of Corrections fails to protect female prisoners from sexual abuse and misconduct by both staff and other inmates. The Justice Department says that’s a violation of the women’s constitutional rights. The letter says sexual abuse goes unreported because of insufficient staffing, fears of retaliation and inadequate investigative processes. The justice department claims state officials have failed to fix the problems, despite them being well documented. If federal officials aren’t satisfied with efforts to fix the issues, the U.S. Attorney General could file a lawsuit. When reached by phone, Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said the agency is reviewing the letter.
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Late last (THUR) night, Governor Brownback's office issued a response. Spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag says many of the alleged misdeeds took place under a previous governor. She says Brownback has made improvements at the facility and has a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct. Jones-Sontag says they're confident further investigation will show the constitutional rights of inmates at the facility are protected.