On the Assault at Lansing Correctional Facility

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On Wednesday, 3 November, a corrections officer was assaulted by an inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility. Yesterday, KOSE was contacted by multiple media outlets for a statement. We want to provide that statement here in full as well as links to those stories. We wish Ms. Bindel a full and speedy recovery.

As our statement outlines, this horrible event is a direct result of the inability for KDOC, the state administration, and the Kansas legislature to adequately safeguard state employees and staff these facilities. We know that these issues are longstanding and severe, and that many state workers have had their lives and health negatively impacted by these conditions, and that what happened at LCF is a serious, traumatic event. Our main goal as a union is to keep everyone we represent safe on the job. As we work together to make Kansas state facilities safer and better through the union, we also want to remind all workers covered by KOSE that members have access to free trauma counseling through AFT.

Statement from KOSE President Sarah LaFrenz:

The rights and safety of our members and covered workers are our top priority. The events of Wednesday night that landed a corrections officer in the emergency room are a terrible tragedy and stem directly from the poor  management decisions at Lansing Correctional Facility and the Kansas Department of Corrections. KDOC must address the staffing issues and abysmal working conditions at its facilities or more dangerous situations like this one will continue to occur.

Our union, the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE), that represents Ms. Bindel and correctional officers, has for years advocated for and pushed on the extremely dangerous staffing levels at this facility as well as at other facilities throughout the state. Workers have spoken out over and over again about the conditions to their management, and to this administration. This incident cements the fact that KDOC’s decisions clearly put the lives of state employees at risk.

The inmate assault on Ms. Bindel occurred close to afternoon shift change. Reports conflict on how and when she was found. LCF management reports that that she was attacked by one inmate on the B2 unit and punched repeatedly in the face and head. Meth was reportedly found on the inmate after the assault. Ms. Bindel has, to our knowledge, sustained facial fractures, may have a severe head injury, and suffers from other broken bones. She was in ICU last night in stable condition but was heavily sedated. 

The pod on B2, the unit Ms. Bindel was assigned to, was “designed” to operate with a ratio of one corrections officer to however many inmates are in the pod—in this case, approximately 127 inmates. This “design” is wrong and dangerous, and led directly to this brutal assault. Virtually every decision that KDOC management has made over the past many years, from facility design to staffing policies, have had a detrimental effect not just on staffing levels at corrections facilities, but also on the health and safety of the Kansas that work on the units.

KDOC, Governor Kelly’s administration, and the Kansas state legislature must act now to address these issues. This includes but is not limited to staffing levels that support as well as protect workers and the populations alike, as well as properly paying workers who take on this huge responsibility as well as the innate risks that are present while working in Corrections in Kansas.

Here are the links to the media coverage of the assault on Officer Bindel:

What happened to Officer Bindel should never have occurred. We will continue to fight for safer working conditions and staffing levels so hopefully something like this does not occur again. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out over email (info@koseunion.org), call the office at (785) 354-1174, or reach out to your steward.