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You are here: Home / Newsroom / News Stories / ARCHIVED News Stories / ARCHIVED: 2013 News Stories / Topeka Correctional Facility receives high marks from audit

Topeka Correctional Facility receives high marks from audit

by admin last modified Jul 07, 2015 02:10 PM
Reviewers finds progress at women's facility.

An audit of the Topeka Correctional Facility (TCF) performed last November by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) rendered an encouraging review, stating that the facility is ensuring the safety and security of staff and residents. 

In light of administrative changes at the facility and some negative events in the past, Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) Secretary Ray Roberts requested the audit last year to ensure that the facility is headed in the right direction.

“There were serious concerns surrounding the safety and well-being of the inmates held at the Topeka Correctional Facility when my administration took office, but as this independent audit found, solid progress has been made during the past two years,” Governor Sam Brownback said upon receiving the audit. “I have a ‘zero tolerance policy’ toward sexual abuse in all state correctional facilities.  The Kansas Department of Corrections has worked diligently to ensure a safe, secure environment for the inmates, as well as for the people who work there.”

Warden Hope Cooper, who assumed leadership of the facility in August of 2011, was commended by the panel for her efforts.

“Staff and inmates reported that the current Warden has had a significant and positive impact on the facility,” the report said. “The Warden is perceived as visible and accessible. She is clear in her expectations regarding sexual misconduct and undue familiarity and she is invested in promoting a positive correctional environment.”

Prisons nationwide are instituting widespread changes in response to recent federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) laws. Many new policies instituted by TCF in the past six months were reviewed by the panel. The audit commended the facility for:

  • Informing inmates of sexual abuse and misconduct policies and preventatives
  • Instituting a confidential phone hotline within the facility to report staff and inmate misconduct
  • Changing to strictly same-gender pat searches, which were found to be performed appropriately
  • Enhancing policy and procedures for reporting sexual misconduct
  • Ensuring adequate staff training
  • Greatly increasing the number of surveillance cameras and the use of video surveillance to ensure a safe and secure environment

The audit identified a few areas needing improvement, particularly the process by which inmates file grievances. Staff expressed a concern for inmate “idleness,” and the inmates themselves requested more of the programs they found favorable – mental health and religious services, and educational and mentoring programs.

The recruitment of more female staff is essential to meet TCF’s goals. At present, just over half of the  orrections officer I staff is female.

The report concluded by stating that the improvements at TCF indicate a positive culture change.

“There is a genuine sense of optimism that the facility is transitioning from a troubled time a few years ago to one that is making strides in its goal to being a high performing organization,” the audit stated. “The Warden and her leadership team, with support from the Secretary and Central Office Administration, have an opportunity to truly influence the facility’s culture, to embrace the tenants of PREA, and address any vestiges of staff sexual misconduct.”

“We are determined to have all our facilities meet the highest possible expectations when it comes to public
safety, the security of our staff and offenders, and for the offenders to be treated with care and dignity,” Roberts said. “This report shows that we are meeting, and in some cases exceeding, those expectations, and we will strive for even greater improvement.” 

ASCA Audit of TCF

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