News Briefs

Kansas inmates return from Arizona private prison after longer-than-expected stay

By: - December 16, 2020 11:38 am

Jeff Zmuda, Kansas corrections secretary, says 118 KDOC inmates are returning to Kansas after being held temporarily in Arizona. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansas inmates housed at a correctional center in Arizona are returning to state prisons after a monthslong delay, the Kansas Department of Corrections announced Wednesday.

Lansing Correctional Facility will be the first stop for the 118 individuals, who all cleared COVID-19 testing protocols. They will quarantine in the Lansing facility for 21 days before relocation to other KDOC prisons.

“We had planned to return our residents to Kansas by the end of June 2020,” said Jeff Zmuda, Kansas corrections secretary. “However, this plan was disrupted by the pandemic. We continued to revisit the original plan and have determined returning our residents at this time is in the best interest of all those involved.”

KDOC inmates have been held at the private prison in Arizona since shortly after the October 2019 decision to transfer up to 360 prisoners in order to manage overcapacity issues and anticipated growth in prison population figures.

Amid the pandemic, however, incarceration has slowed in Kansas. According to a Kansas Sentencing Commission prison population projection, the number of inmates in 2020 has decreased by 855, or 8.5%, from 2019.

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda

Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.