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The Latest: Kansas prison’s inmate numbers up before unrest

NORTON, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on a disturbance at a state prison in northwestern Kansas (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

Figures from the Kansas Department of Corrections show that the inmate population at a northwestern Kansas prison rose steadily for three months before a disturbance there.

Department spokesman Samir Arif said Wednesday that the state began double-bunking inmates in some parts of the low-security Norton Correctional Facility this summer.

A disturbance Tuesday night left part of one building at the prison not livable for inmates. Windows were smashed and inmates broke into a tool shed. The department reported two minor injuries to staff.

The department’s figures show that the prison housed 707 inmates at the end of May. The population was 21 percent higher Tuesday at 856 inmates.

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka said the relocation of inmates has created what she called a “self-inflicted” crisis.

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3:40 p.m.

A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman is confirming that part of a building for housing inmates at a prison in the state’s northwest is not livable following a disturbance.

Spokesman Samir Arif also said the department increased the number of inmates it transferred out of the Norton Correctional Facility on Wednesday to 100, up from 90 earlier.

But Arif said the inmates were transferred for security reasons, not because part of the housing building was damaged.

The disturbance occurred Tuesday night. Arif said it began when an inmate or inmates set fire to a mattress and about 250 spilled into the yard. Windows were smashed in several buildings and inmates broke into a tool shed.

The low-security prison is about 320 miles (515 kilometers) west of Kansas City.

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10:45 a.m.

A Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman says it has transferred 90 inmates from a prison in the state’s northwest following a disturbance there.

Spokesman Samir Arif said Wednesday that the inmates were moved from the Norton Correctional Facility to other Kansas prisons.

Arif says the disturbance at Norton began Tuesday night when an inmate or inmates set fire to a mattress in a housing unit and as many as 250 inmates spilled into the yard. He said inmates broke into a tool shed and smashed several prison windows.

Arif says two staff members suffered minor injuries that required no medical attention.

The disturbance drew law enforcement officers and firefighters to the prison just south of the Nebraska state line and about 320 miles west (515 kilometers) west of Kansas City.

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12:25 a.m.

The Kansas Department of Corrections has confirmed that an inmate disturbance occurred at a state prison in western Kansas and that local law enforcement officers are on the scene.

Department spokesman Samir Arif provided no other details about the disturbance Tuesday night at the Norton Correctional Facility.

Norton City Administrator Chad Buckley says all of the town’s firetrucks and his entire police department responded to the scene to assist corrections officials.

The Norton prison housed 848 inmates as of Friday, with another 125 at a satellite unit in Stockton, to the east. Most of the inmates are either “low” medium-security inmates or minimum-security inmates. The prison is about 320 miles west of Kansas City.

The state saw multiple inmate disturbances in recent months at its maximum-security prison in El Dorado in southern Kansas.

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