Employees concerned over changes at El Dorado Correctional Facility
"It's just a recipe for disaster."
A current El Dorado prison employee describes the environment inside. She doesn't want to be identified, so we're not showing her face, and have changed her voice.
"Processes are starting to fall down, they're starting to take down basic security measures because they don't have staffing. We've had two riots in the last month and a half."
Employees says one broke out last weekend. Another occurred Thursday morning when inmates refused to lockdown and return to their cell houses.
"They know we're short staffed, they know they can't really do anything unless they risk their own officers' safety, so they're just going to keep doing it just because they can."
Jackson Mitchell was a corrections officer at El Dorado in 2015. He still has family, working there.
"I would say the safety environment is much worse," he said. "It's crazy, but I think until they can either get less inmates or more officers, I think it's just going to keep getting worse.
The state says El Dorado prison is short staffed by 90 employees..
However, 150 more inmates being transferred here from Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility.
Many cells have been converted from one-bed to two-bed cells to increase capacity.
Starting July 1, employees will start working 12-hour shifts to help cope with the staffing shortage.
Both employees say they're worried about someone getting seriously hurt or killed.
"It's just a matter of time before something bad happens, I really believe that."
"All it needs is a spark. and it's not a question of if the spark happens now, it's when," said Mitchell.
Several people say they believe one cause for the staffing shortage is low pay for a high risk job. The starting pay at El Dorado Correctional Facility is $13.95 per hour, and employees say it's just not enough to make the position worth it.