TOPEKA – Governor Sam Brownback on Friday invited U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to come to Kansas to personally tour the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF) and to discuss concerns the governor has about the letter he and the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) received from the Special Litigation Section of U.S. Department of Justice that alleges constitutional violations at the facility.
In his letter, Gov. Brownback reiterated his administration’s zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct in any state operated facility, including TCF, and pointed out that the DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons conducted a “full monitoring” in February 2012 and found “no deficiencies” at the TCF, confidence that the Bureau of Prison shows by housing federal inmates at the Topeka facility.
“As such, I am sure you can understand that I am puzzled and, in fact, deeply concerned by the alleged “findings” of the September 6, 2012 letter,” Governor Brownback wrote to Attorney General Holder. “In that letter, the Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice draws conclusions that are purportedly current “at this date.” In actual fact, the last contact the Special Litigation Section has had with anyone in my Administration or in the Kansas corrections community was in May of 2011.”
The Governor’s letter also highlights some of the action taken by KDOC Secretary Ray Roberts and his staff to address the concerns at TCF. Among the progress the KDOC has made at the facility:
· Provided an additional $440,000 to hire additional security staffing
· Revised staffing patterns to increase security staff presence in inmate living areas
· Increased percentage of female correctional officers to improve availability for same gender searches and housing assignments
· Require all staff and volunteers (to include contract staff) to take gender responsiveness and undue familiarity training
· Implemented additional training standards for internal investigators;
· Established an automated case log system
· Installed more than 100 cameras to bring total number of cameras to 357 to better monitor the actives of staff and inmates
· Installed new equipment to retain security camera footage for 120 days; previous system kept video for 30 days
· Started implementing an under-market pay plan that includes salary increases of 7.5% for more than 160 positions at TCF to help recruit and retain quality of personnel
· Hired a PREA Coordinator to ensure department-wide compliance with PREA standards
· Requested a second NC audit to review progress in implementing suggested changes
· Established Prisoner-on-Prisoner Sexual Violence Task Force that includes community organizations
Governor Brownback also provided the U.S. Attorney General a copy of the letter from the Bureau of Prisons regarding its February 2012 visit.