Prosecutor pushes for tighter security for violent criminals - KCTV5

Prosecutor pushes for tighter security for violent criminals

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It's not always the case that those accused of the most violent and vicious crimes in Kansas are kept in the most secure prisons and at least one prosecutor wants to change that.

Shawn Morford has lived across the street from Lansing Correctional Facility, the prison that holds minimum-security inmates, for a few years now. He's seen inmates walking and working in front of his house.

"They're working, they don't really pay attention to anybody other than the other inmates and the correctional officer working with them," Morford said.

But Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe has a problem with those convicted of violent crimes being placed in low-security prisons.

"There are couple of first-degree murderers right now who were sentenced in Johnson County that are in low-to-medium risk facilities versus maximum," Howe said.

There have been inmates who escaped from such facilities because they were given trusted access.

"John Maynard, who with the help of a civilian worker, escaped from a Lansing prison while he was working a dog program and was on a high-speed chase and was tracked down and brought back to Kansas," Howe said.

Nearby business owner Stacy Klingele also wonders about the decision of where to place certain inmates.

"I agree with some of them because they have to get back in to society - totally agree with that - but what I don't agree with is that they are out, at the schools, shoveling snow, cutting grass. I think there needs to be more security when that happens," she said.

The placement of in inmate is based on many levels of criteria said Kansas Department of Corrections spokesperson Jeremy Barclay.

"Work release is a tool we use to better enable these individuals," he said. "They look at not only the offense they committed, but also the criminal history - was this a first-time offense, is there a propensity to continue to commit crime?" he said.

Many times, inmates' cases are pleaded down, so an inmate may be more or less dangerous than the crime he or she is convicted for. That's why Barclay said they are tested and screened before being placed.

"If it's a murderer who has acted once in a fit of rage with a loved one and has never hurt anyone since, never hurt anyone before, you could be wasting your resources. Whereas you look at a low level burglar who actually has a long criminal history, younger age, perhaps they have that higher custody need," he said.

There are five placement levels:

  • Minimum security which is the facility without a fence, no restraints - a labor facility.
  • Low-to-medium security.
  • Medium-to-high security.
  • Maximum security.
  • Segregation, which is usually double-fenced, has perimeter patrols and restraints.

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