Group protests in Topeka against mass incarceration, private prisons

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The state of Kansas is preparing to send hundreds of prisoners to a private prison in Arizona beginning in September. However, many state leaders are facing push-back from protesters.

The 360 inmates will be transferred to Phoenix depending on their time left to serve, medical issues, and how frequently people visit them.

“That’s why we’re targeting max classification folks as our highest priority, because that’s where we have the greatest bed need within our just shy of 10,000 beds,” said Randy Bowman, executive director of public affairs for the Kansas Department of Corrections. “We have more minimum beds than we do mediums and max as compared to our need.”

A group of protesters rallied on Friday at the Capitol to highlight why they believe this prison reform is a large problem. The Let My People Go Bill Campaign is fighting for helping the homeless, stopping the drug war, and promoting businesses to hire felons after they serve their time.

“We want to see a major overhaul in the prison system and really see people get the help that they need,” said Joshua Hanson, the coordinator of Let My People Go Bill Campaign.

The Campaign is also looking to politicians in office for help.

“The cost that it’s going to cost, so we’re asking Trump to pardon these people, the state, Governor,” Hanson said. “Come pardon these people, we could pardon 360 people.”

Despite these protests, the state is confident the prisoners will receive quality treatment at the Arizona prison.

“We had a team that went out to the facility so they could see it first hand, see how it’s run, see the cleanliness of it, see the programming that’s provided,” Bowman said. “We’re going to have a monitor that’s our employee who will be out there and have access to that facility.”

The prisoners will be moved in three sets of 120 people, beginning at the end of summer. The state hopes it will be done transferring the inmates by December.

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