TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas corrections officials expect the next prison built by the state to be fully air-conditioned, including the cells for inmates, viewing it both as a way to lessen problems with inmates and to combat high employee turnover.
Some lawmakers who don’t want to coddle criminals see a need to make corrections officers less miserable in the summer heat. When Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood matter-of-factly told a legislative committee earlier this month that plans for a new prison included it, its members let the statement pass without comment, though questions may come later.
The state’s plans to fully air-condition the new prison planned for Lansing in the Kansas City area also come as a federal judge is forcing Texas to move hundreds of inmates who are sensitive to the heat to cooler areas. The American Civil Liberties Union has prevailed in lawsuits on prisoners’ behalf in Arizona, Mississippi and Wisconsin since 2004.
In Kansas, the union representing corrections officers considers the lack of air conditioning in parts of the state’s maximum-security prison in El Dorado, east of Wichita, a contributing factor to inmate unrest there that included three reported disturbances in May and June. Corrections officials said air conditioning is becoming more necessary because of inmates’ medical needs.
“This is not an issue of comfort or luxury,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “You should no more build a prison…
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