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Two Kansas Prison Guards Fired, Six Disciplined for Mocking Injured Prisoner and Refusing Her Help

On October 17, 2023, a month after a Topeka Correctional Facility prisoner fell and had to crawl back to her cell because guards refused to help her, the Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) fired two high-­ranking guards at the prison and disciplined six others for neglecting her medical needs. No one disciplined was named.

The incident unfolded on September 7, 2023, when Elizabeth Wince fell on the sidewalk before 9 p.m. headcount, according to a fellow prisoner, who mentioned three guards by their last names—White, Crone, and Williams—and said they mocked Wince, calling her fat and lazy. Watching Wince crawl back to her cell, a journey which took a painful two hours, one guard allegedly patted her own knee and called out, “Come on, you can do it.”

Between her fall and that crawl, Wince had been denied treatment in the medical clinic. The following day, on September 8, 2023, she was hospitalized after her foot turned black. She then spent several weeks recovering from multiple broken bones in her foot. Meanwhile the guards reportedly attempted to justify their behavior by saying they thought Wince was faking her symptoms. After DOC fired or disciplined those involved, it characterized the guards’ behavior as an isolated lapse in judgement. The agency also denied any systemic issues with the prison or its medical care provider, Centurion Health.

DOC tapped Centurion Health to replace Corizon Health, saying it hoped to improve a poor quality of care that prisoners have long complained about. However, current and former Kansas prisoners say “their medical care threatens their health,” as PLN reported. [See: PLN, Dec. 2023, p.1.]

Wince’s fellow prisoners said they were not allowed to help her and would have been disciplined if they had tried, though that didn’t stop guards from reprimanding them anyway. Many prisoner complaints allege that guards call prisoners “bitches” and say their mistreatment does not matter because they will “die in here”—prompting at least one prisoner to worry aloud, “Was that intended as a threat?”  


Sources: CBS News, KCUR

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