One of the advantages is blogging about this investigation is using your comments to steer our reporting. We knew you were interested in this, so we looked into it.
KASPER, the Kansas Adult Supervised Population Electronic Repository, is one way you can look up prison records online. According to KASPER, Rhodes received reports for 34 prison infractions since 1996.
This caused some concern that even though Rhodes claims he’s innocent of the 1981 killing, he still could be violent.
Said one reader:
Nobody expects inmates to all be angels behind bars, but to have so many occurrences of bad behavior shows a trend towards criminality. If you or I received 42 traffic tickets in 14 years, one could assume that you or I cannot follow the rules, and had little respect for them.
As for their severity, are you aware that none of them–that number is 0–would be considered worthy of receiving a ticket if Mr. Rhodes were a member of society rather than an inmate in the DOC? That being the case, how can you say they represent a tendency toward “criminality” when none of them would even warrant a “ticket?”
These comments prompted us to look at the actual reports, which we requested through the Kansas Open Records Act. We went to the Kansas Department of Corrections Office in Wichita this week to look at more than 140 pages of reports during the past five years.
KASPER lists 18 disciplinary actions during this time period. But the actual number of incidents is less. One act sometimes will result in several infractions.
For example, an incident in February yielded six different reports. A corrections officer noticed Rhodes’ handwriting on several other inmates’ grievance notices filed at Lansing. While in prison, Rhodes took an online course for paralegal training and had helped other inmates with their grievances. He said he didn’t know it was against the rules. He was given a verbal reprimand.
The dangerous contraband all involved tobacco. He was caught sneaking a cigarette in the laundry, where he worked. In one case voluntarily surrendered bags of tobacco, when he switched cells. The last of these was in 2007 — the year Rhodes said he quit smoking.
The disrespect and insubordination violations involved talking back to prison officers.
One, on May 19, 2005, involved Rhodes trying to file a report against another inmate Rhodes said was harassing him. An officer said he would not accept the report. Rhodes said he would file another.
“He made this very loud and disrepectful in front of many (inmates),” the report said.
On another occasion, Rhodes raised his voice at an officer, because he couldn’t go to the library. He also earned a disciplinary report for flipping off an officer who tried to break up an argument Rhodes was having with another inmate. The officer said he “felt threatened” by the hand gesture.
Both readers were correct on some of their assumptions. On one hand, if Rhodes was out of prison, none of these probably yield a ticket. But depending on where he was, it could get him fired from a job.
Rhodes has said he has taken anger management classes while in prison in an attempt to control such outbursts.