Prison abuses unacceptable in Kansas
The Kansas City Star
A federal investigation finding “rampant” sexual misconduct and abuse of inmates at the Topeka Correctional Facility for women shamed the state. In response, officials now say they have taken the necessary actions to prevent the problems from recurring.
Like all citizens in America, inmates have constitutional rights. No one should suffer abuse from correctional staff or other prisoners.
Thomas Perez, the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, this week noted the findings of a critical Justice Department investigation in a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback. Perez warned that U.S. Attorney Eric Holder could file a lawsuit if the Justice Department thinks the state is not correcting the problems. However, Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Robert said that the May 2011 Justice Department audit did not “account for the strides and successes” at the prison in the last 16 months. The changes include additional staffing, increasing the number of security cameras from 250 to 350, providing training to staff, volunteers and inmates and hiring a prison rape elimination act coordinator in January to ensure the safety of the nearly 700 inmates.
Concerned citizens rely on the state to make needed improvements ensuring the safety of the incarcerated women. State officials must continue to work with the Justice Department to ensure that sexual abuse and other problems do not recur. A civilized society expects its government to fairly and humanely punish lawbreakers. Anything less must not be tolerated.