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Inmates rampage through offices, set fires at Kan. prison

A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman said no injuries were reported and it’s unclear what started the riot


Prison spokesman Randy Bowman says the riot started Thursday, April 9, 2020, when several inmates refused to return to their cells.

Mark Rountree/The Leavenworth Times via AP

Associated Press

LANSING, Kan. — Dozens of inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas rampaged through offices, breaking windows and setting small fires for several hours before the facility was secured, a prison official said Friday.

The disturbance began about 3 p.m. Thursday in medium-security cell house C, said Randy Bowman, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections. By 9 p.m., some inmates had given up or gone back to their cells.

All inmates were secured and accounted for by about 1 a.m. Friday, Bowman said in an email cited by NBC News. Bowman did not immediately return a message left Friday morning by The Associated Press seeking an update.

No injuries were reported and staff members were able to leave the cell house after the riot began.

Bowman said the disturbance started when some inmates refused to return to their cells as ordered. He said it appeared about 50 inmates were involved at first, with between 20 or 30 participating through the evening.

It’s unclear what started the riot, Bowman said.

The Lansing prison has drawn attention recently amid the coronavirus crisis, with the corrections department reporting 14 staff and 12 inmates with confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the facility.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas asked the Kansas Supreme Court to immediately release prisoners who have preexisting medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus. That class action petition is on behalf of seven inmates at prisons including the Lansing facility.

The department said Thursday that state officials recognize that inmates and prison staff are especially at risk of infection and have taken steps to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in corrections facilities.