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Jackson - Suite 404N Topeka, Kansas 66612 Re: Program Accessibility at Lansing state Prison, Complaint No. X Dear Mr. Stotts: The Coordination and Review Section of the Civil Rights Division has completed its investigation of the complaints filed against the Kansas Department of Corrections [KDOC] under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Department of Justice's implementing section 504 regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, subpart G. Since the complainants' allegations of discrimination, if true, are ongoing in nature, we also reviewed the allegations under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [ADA], 42 U.S.C. 12131-12134, and the Department of Justice's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, which became effective an January 26, 1992. This letter constitutes the Department of Justice's Letter of Findings and contains our factual findings and legal conclusions with respect to the allegations raised in the complaint. The Coordination and Review Section investigates administrative complaints alleging violations of section 504 by recipients of Federal financial assistance provided by the National Institute of Corrections, Department of Justice. In addition, this office investigates allegations of discrimination under title II by components of State and local governments in the area of the administration of justice, including correctional institutions, under 28 C.F.R. § 35.190[b]. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the programs, services, and activities of a recipient of Federal financial assistance. KDOC is a recipient of Federal financial assistance from the National Institute of Corrections, Department of Justice and, therefore, it is subject to section 504's requirements.
cc: Records CRS Chrono Friedlander Stewart.stotts.lof FOIA Breen Keenan 01-00030 2 Title II protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in a public entity's programs, services, and activities. As an instrumentality of State government, KDOC is a "public entity" subject to the requirements of title II of the ADA. 28 C.F.R. 35.104. The complainants allege that the programs and activities provided at the Lansing Correctional Facility [LCF] operated by KDOC are inaccessible to and unusable by individuals with mobility impairments and those individuals whose health would be placed in serious jeopardy should they be required to climb stairs. One complainant alleged that the following LCF programs, services, and activities are inaccessible to and unusable by individuals who use wheelchairs for mobility and those individuals whose health would be placed in serious jeopardy should they be required to climb stairs:  the library;  religious services;  legal aid services;  the canteen;  inmate activities;  movies shown in the auditorium;  special programs; and,  a mailbox. This complainant further claimed that these programs, services and activities "... are all [located in] different buildings, the only ones which have a ramp is the dormitory and [it is] in [the] back of the dining room. The disrepair of the ramp in the dormitory has, and is a safety hazard to those confined to wheelchairs." Another complainant asserted that "[t]he Kansas Department of Corrections ... does not make available to handicapped persons any form of 'athletic', or related equipment, for handicapped participation .... "The complainant further asserted that the KDOC does not make available any form of Area Vocational Training although the KDOC operates an Area Vocational Training School [AVTS] program .... Such programs are denied to the handicapped." With respect to the complainants' allegations, we have
determined that the Kansas Department of Corrections [KDOC] has not violated title II and section 504 or the pertinent implementing regulations. This conclusion is based on a review of KDOC's policies, procedures, records and documents, photographs, and interviews. Applicable Regulatory Standards As a recipient of Federal financial assistance from the National Institute of Corrections, the Department of Justice section 504 regulation requires that KDOC "... shall insure that no qualified handicapped person is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to the 01-00031 3 discrimination under any program ... because [KDOC's] facilities are inaccessible to or unusable by handicapped persons." 28 C.F.R. 42.520. In existing facilities, KDOC "... shall operate each program... so that the program, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons." 28 C.F.R. 42.521[a]. The comments to the Department's section 504 regulation state: Facilities available to all inmates ... such as classrooms, infirmary, laundry, dining areas, recreational areas, work areas, and chapels, must be readily accessible to any handicapped person who is confined to the facility. 45 FR 37,629, 36,630 . "This section does not require [KDOC] to make each of its ... facilities [that existed on July 3, 1980] accessible to and usable by handicapped persons." 28 C.F.R. 42.521[a]. KDOC may achieve program accessibility by the "... acquisition or redesign of equipment, reassignment of services to accessible buildings, assignment of aids to [inmates], delivery of services at alternative accessible sites, alteration of existing facilities, or any other method that results in making its program accessible to handicapped persons. [KDOC] is not required to make structural changes in existing facilities where other methods are effective in achieving compliance with [the requirements for program accessibility]. In
choosing among methods for meeting [program accessibility, KDOC] shall give priority to those methods that offer programs to handicapped persons in the most integrated setting appropriate to obtain the full benefits of the program." 28 C.F.R. 42.521[b]. In addition to the access to the physical space where the program, service, or activity is located, related amenities, such as restroom facilities and water fountains, that are provided to participants must also be accessible. Section 504's requirement that a recipient provide access to its programs, activities, and services in its existing facilities is the same standard that is contained in the Department's title II regulation. 28 C.F.R. 35.150. Therefore, we have used the same standard for determining KDOC's compliance with section 504 and title II with respect to the accessibility of LCF's programs, services, and activities. 01-00032 4 Analysis of Facts and Compliance Status The issues examined during this investigation were the following:  Whether KDOC assigns individuals with mobility impairments to LCF.  Whether any or all of the following LCF programs, activities, or services are located in facilities inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with mobility impairments:  the library;  religious services;  legal aid services;  the canteen;  inmate activities;  movies;  special programs;  educational programs; and,  postal privileges.  With respect to any or all of the LCF programs, activities, or services listed in issue number 2 that are located in inaccessible facilities, whether KDOC has met its program accessibility requirements through alternative means such as [a] acquisition or redesign of equipment; [b] reassignment of inmates; [c] delivery of services at alternative accessible sites; [d] alteration of existing facilities; or, [e] any other method that results in making these
programs accessible to individuals with mobility impairments that require the use of wheelchairs and to those who cannot climb stairs without seriously jeopardizing their health. Our analysis of each issue is presented below. Issue Number 1 Whether KDCC assigns individuals with mobility impairments to LCF. Analysis of Issue Number 1 KDOC assigns numerous inmates to LCF who have mobility impairments. In addition to other factors, KDOC assigns prisoners to LCF due to its proximity to medical care that is available to prisoners at nearby locations. in response to our request for information, LCF's warden stated: The availability of medical services has often been an important consideration for inmates assigned to LCF. Due to its proximity to the Kansas City metropolitan area, LCF has access to more medical specialists and hospitals then [sic] KDOC facilities in the more rural areas. 01-00033 5
As a result of the special medical care that may be obtained, many inmates who have mobility impairments have been assigned to LCF. In a February 6, 1992, report, KDOC identified 58 persons assigned to LCF who are mobility impaired and use wheelchairs for mobility or cannot climb stairs without seriously jeopardizing their health. Of the 58, 30 were assigned to maximum security, 23 to medium security and five were assigned to the infirmary. Conclusion KDOC assigns prisoners to LCF who are mobility impaired. Issue Number 2
Whether any or all of the following LCF programs, activities, or services are located in facilities inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with mobility impairments:  the library;  religious services;  legal aid services;  the canteen;  inmate activities;  movies;  special programs;  educational programs; and,  postal privileges. Analysis of Issue Number 2 LCF is divided into four physically separate areas. These include:  the central unit with 588 beds in the maximum security compound and 699 beds in the medium security compound;  an infirmary located in both the maximum and medium security compounds;  the east unit with 40 beds in maximum security and 216 beds under minimum security; and,  the minimum security north and south compound with 10 beds and 80 beds respectively. LCF's maximum and medium security areas are physically separated. The allegedly inaccessible programs are located in both areas. The facilities in the maximum security area contain many architectural barriers to accessibility because they are older. The newer facilities in the medium security area are accessible. IMOC submitted several photographs which show the entrances, path of travel, and architectural barriers for the buildings that house the allegedly inaccessible programs. Maximum Security In addition to postal services and movie privileges, we reviewed information concerning nine maximum security programs and/or services. The athletic and recreational program, vocational education program, and canteen services are located in accessible areas. Six other programs were located in areas of facilities that were inaccessible to individuals with mobility impairments. A brief description of the facilities and programs located in them is as follows: 01-00034 6 Building Number 26 Athletic and recreational program: one program, which includes the game and weight rooms, is offered in this one-story building. The entrance to the building is at street level and is accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. Entrance and interior doors are wider than 35".
Restroom facilities serving this program are accessible but the water fountains are not. Prisoners who cannot access a water fountain due to physical impairments, however, either carry a cup or are provided a cup upon request which permits them to access the water fountains. Building Number 27 Vocational Education: The vocational education program is offered in this one-story facility. The entrance to the building is at street level and is accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. All entrance and interior doors are greater than 35" wide. The restrooms serving this program are accessible but the water fountains are not. Prisoners who cannot access a water fountain due to physical impairments, however, either carry a cup or are provided a cup upon request which permits them to access the water fountains. Building Number 28 Sex Offender Program: Building Number 28 is a two-story building housing a special program for the treatment of sex offenders on the second floor. The original building was constructed in 1927 and the area that serves the program was renovated in 1987. Since the building is not served by an elevator, an inmate must climb a flight of stairs to reach the program. All entrance and interior doors to the program are greater than 35". The restrooms and water fountains serving the program are accessible. Building Number 29 Six programs or services, the canteen, inmate activities, the library, religious services, legal aid services, and academic educational programs are located in Building Number 29. Building Number 29 is a-three-story building with a basement that is not served by an elevator. The building was originally constructed in 1936. In 1985, many areas of the building were renovated. It is necessary to use stairs to reach the basement and the upper 01-00035
7 levels of this building. The entrance, served by a concrete ramp, is accessible. All restrooms on all floors in the service and program areas are accessible. Canteen: Renovated in 1990, the canteen is located on the first floor in a 72' by 60' room. The entrance door to the canteen is over 35" wide and is approximately 36" above street level and is served by an exterior concrete ramp. Inmate Activities: Inmate activities, which include such endeavors as crafts classes and self-help groups, are located in the basement in several rooms occupying an area 124' by 90' that was renovated in 1985. Entrance and interior doors to all rooms are greater than 35" wide. Inmates must descend a flight of partially-covered, exterior stairs to participate in the programs offered here. Library Services: Library services, which include a law library and a regular library, are located on the second floor. This area was renovated in 1985. The entrance doors serving all the rooms are more than 35" wide. An inmate must climb stairs to reach the library. Academic Educational Services: Academic educational services are offered on the third floor. The entrance and interior doors to the various rooms on this floor are over 35" wide. An inmate must climb stairs to reach this program. Religious Services: Religious services are offered in a chapel on the third floor in an area 90' by 64' that was renovated in 1983. The entrance and interior doors are wider than 35". An inmate must climb stairs to reach the area where religious services are offered. Legal Aid: Legal aid is located in the basement in a 28' by 19' room. The entrance door to the room is wider than 35". An inmate must descend an exterior, partially covered flight of stairs to reach this room. Other services
Postal Services: one complainant alleged that a mailbox serving maximum security prisoners was not accessible because it was located on the second floor requiring one to climb stairs. As with other services, the focus of our review was whether mailing services when viewed in their entirety are accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. KDOC reported that inmates receive incoming mail in their living units and indicated that mailboxes are located throughout 01-00036 8 the prison site. KDOC also reported that inmates send out packages through the business office and central property room. A mailbox is located in the maximum and medium security yards. Based on photographs provided by KDOC it appears that these mailboxes are accessible to inmates with mobility impairments. In any event, the fact that an inmate has numerous alternatives for mailing materials in addition to the use of one mailbox supports the conclusion that, when viewed in their entirety, LCF's mailing services are accessible. Movies: one complainant alleged that the movies were inaccessible to maximum security inmates. LCF stated that movies are shown by closed circuit television in an inmate's living quarters. Therefore, LCF provides access to its movies to all inmates on equal terms without regard to their disability status. 1 Medium Security The seven programs serving the medium security inmate population are all located in accessible buildings. The programs include:  religious services;  inmate activities;  athletics programs;  legal aid and library services;  vocational education services;  academic education services; and,  the canteen. Academic educational services, inmate activities, the library, legal aid and the canteen are located in Building Number 44 which was constructed in 1987. All restrooms and water fountains serving these programs are accessible. Vocational education services are offered in Building Number 38 which was constructed in 1985. Religious and athletic programs are located in Building Number 40 which was constructed in 1986. All these programs are located in areas that are accessible to and usable
by individuals with mobility impairments. Conclusion Six programs or activities located in the maximum security area of the prison are inaccessible because they are located in areas of buildings that require the use of stairs to access them. The programs, activities, and services provided in the medium security section are accessible to and usable by individuals with mobility impairments.
1 The only movie facilities identified by KDOC were located in Building 40 in the medium security section of the prison, which is accessible.01-00037 9 Issue Number 3 With respect to any or all of the LCF programs, activities, or services listed in issue number 2 that are located in inaccessible facilities, whether KDOC has met its program accessibility requirements through alternative means such as: [a] acquisition or redesign of equipment; [b] reassignment of inmates; [c] delivery of services at alternative accessible sites; [d] alteration of existing facilities; or, [e] any other method that results in making these programs accessible to programs with mobility impairments that require the use of wheelchairs or to those who cannot climb stairs without seriously jeopardizing their health. Analysis of Issue Number 3 In the maximum security section of LCF, a prisoner's freedom to move about the prison area is limited due to security concerns. According to the KDOC Inmate Handbook, "[m]aximum security inmates may move throughout the facility without escort, but only when they are in possession of a properly signed pass. Use of the appointment pass is governed by [LCF's] general orders." All doors to individual buildings are access points which have guards. Under the pass system, no inmate is permitted entry into a building without showing an appropriate pass.
To achieve program accessibility in inaccessible areas of the maximum security facilities, KDOC has acquired three portable wheelchair lifts. The wheelchair lifts are operated by prison guards assigned to the access points to each building. When an inmate with a mobility impairment presents his pass to a guard at the entrance to a building, the guard admits the inmate and operates the portable lift for the inmate. When the inmate is ready to leave the building, a prison employee contacts the guard who operates the portable lift to bring the employee back to the entrance to the building. One portable lift is used to access the sex offender program in Building Number 28. Another portable lift is used to access the educational programs, chapel, and library located in Building Number 29. The third portable wheelchair lift is used to access the special education program in Building Number 24. Conclusion All the inmates in the maximum security facilities have limitations on their independence of travel. Therefore the use of a lift system that requires assistance is an acceptable method of providing access to maximum security programs, services, and activities that are located in areas where stairs must be climbed to gain access. 01-00038 10 Compliance Determination This case is closed as of the date of this Letter of Findings. This letter does not address other potential claims of disability discrimination that may arise with respect to KDOC or any of its facilities. Rather, this letter is limited to the allegations of discrimination presented in these complaints. Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, we may be required to release this letter and other correspondence and records related to this complaint in response to a request from a third party. Should we receive such a request, we will safeguard, to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, the release of information which could constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individuals privacy. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and Mr. Charles Simmons, Chief Legal Counsel, extended to Ms. Brenda
Sheppard, our investigator, and Louis M. Stewart, our attorney, during the course of the investigation. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Louis M. Stewart at  616-7779. Sincerely,
Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division 01-00039
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