LANSING, Kan. — It’s been nearly two weeks since a corrections officer was brutally attacked by an inmate at the Lansing Correctional Facility.
Sarah LaFrenz, the President of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the guard was beaten when an inmate attached a padlock to a belt.
LaFrenz said the guard has several broken bones in her face and there’s a concern for brain injury.
Employees say staffing levels are the root cause and say they’ve become dangerously low.
Staffing levels are a problem, straining detention centers across the country, and current employees at Lansing Correctional Facility say it’s no different there.
“But when we're short staffed as we are, it gets to the point where lives are in danger,” Roger Baughman, an LCF employee said.
Baughman is a corrections officer at the facility and says he recently went on medical leave due to work-related stress over safety concerns.
He says he’s been raising safety concerns over staff levels for months.
“[I'm] Constantly on alert, constantly on edge,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before something severe happened.”
He’s not the only one raising the red flag.
Greg Peters, a former first Sgt. at Lansing Correctional Facility, retired after 20 years in Lansing.
Peters has organized protests outside the prison for the last week.
“To tell them that we need help in there and tell them it’s an unsafe place to work," Peters said.
Baughman says there’s often just one officer per a 125-inmate pod, which is what he said was the case when his colleague was attacked.
“Two other inmates had to pull the attacking inmate off her and then they used her radio to call the alarm and call for help,” he said. “Because she didn't have a partner there, there were no other officers or supervisors there to assist her or call for help.”
Baughman says fights have increased to daily occurrences and they’re short-staffed sometimes more than a dozen officers per shift.
He’s concerned about retention, saying new officer experience and people being burnt out is an issue.
“I'm worried it's going to happen again,” he said.
Baughman says he’ll keep asking for reform, seasoned officers and pay raises.
KSHB 41 reached out to Lansing Corrections Facility multiple times and have not heard back on our requests for comment.
It's unclear if charges have been filed against the inmate involved in the attack.
LaFrenz from the Kansas Organization of State Employees released the following statement to KSHB 41 News:
“It has been 12 days since the brutal inmate assault. The Kansas Department of Corrections and the management at LCF have not changed one policy that would keep our corrections officers safer on the job or solve their staffing issues. 12 more days that these units have remained dangerously understaffed. 12 more days that the workers we represent at this facility have been wondering when the next assault is coming, and if it will be them bleeding on the floor. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever: the rights and safety of the people we represent are paramount. Our union will never stop pushing state officials and legislators to do the things they need to do to protect the health and safety of state employees and to keep these facilities safely staffed. It is imperative, and well past time, that KDOC, Governor Kelly’s administration, and the Kansas state legislature act now to keep these workers safe. They have had years to fix the problems that led to this most recent assault, and the situation has only gotten more dire. They have to do better, and they have to do it now."