LARNED – The Pawnee County Attorney’s office reported there was a riot at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility Tuesday night involving inmates in all five housing units at the prison's central facility.
The incident began about 9 p.m. and was brought under control by 11:30 p.m.
Only one minor injury to an inmate was reported, but there was extensive damage in all of the housing units, reported Pawnee County Attorney Doug McNett in a news release.
The prison requested assistance from the Pawnee County Sheriff’s Department, which sent six staff members and its K-9 Unit. Also responding were the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Ford County K-9 Unit, Ford County Sheriff/Dodge City Police Department Special Response Team and the Stafford County Undersheriff.
The Pawnee County and Ford County K-9 officers and Ford County SRT were deployed within the facility to assist the KDOC SORT team in regaining control and secure the housing units, while Pawnee County Sheriff’s officers secured the outside perimeter of the prison, McNett’s release stated.
Barton and Edwards County law enforcement offered to respond, but were advised to stand down.
Since last summer, LCMHF became a 330-bed unit for young adult male offenders, ages 18 to 25, who have been identified in need of educational and substance abuse services, though the name of the facility has not yet been changed. The mental health inmates formerly housed there were moved to El Dorado Correctional Facility.
McNutt said up to 66 inmates are housed in each wing of the prison's Central Unit, the only building involved in the incident. It was unclear how many of the inmates were involved.
A call to the KDOC’s public information office was not immediately returned.
“Warden (Don) Langford and the entire LCMHF staff should be commended on how they swiftly and directly addressed the situation,” McNett stated. “Their prompt response to the inmates’ inappropriate behavior prevented further escalation and prevented possible injuries to staff and inmates.”
A riot, McNett stated, is defined by Kansas Law as "five or more persons acting together and without lawful authority engaging in any (1) Use of Force or violence which produces a breach of the public peace; or (2) threat to use force or violence against any person or property if accompanied by power or apparent power of immediate execution."
The last riot at LCMHF occurred Dec. 30, 2001, and was restricted to one housing unit. Prosecutors charged two inmates, Kerry D. Arnold and Larece T. Hutton, at the time.