Nomin Ujiyediin | KCUR

Nomin Ujiyediin

Kansas News Service Reporter

Nomin is a reporter at the Kansas News Service covering prisons, jails, law enforcement and the legal system.

Prior to joining the news service, Nomin produced All Things Considered at WNYC in New York City and was a host, producer and reporter at KGOU in Norman, Oklahoma. She has an MA from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where she focused on urban reporting, radio and photography. She also has a BA from Rutgers University. Nomin was a Knight CUNYJ fellow in 2015, and an AIR New Voice fellow in 2017.

In her spare time, Nomin lifts weights, plays video games and tries to contain her bad New Jersey attitude.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

“A Clockwork Orange.” “Invisible Man.” “Twelve Years a Slave.” 

Issues of Bloomberg Businessweek, Us Weekly, Elle.

“Excel 2016 for Dummies.” “Tarot Fundamentals.” “Electrical Theory.”

Over the past 15 years, the Kansas Department of Corrections banned those titles, and about 7,000 others, from its prisons across the state.

Creative Commons-CC0

The state spending review panel is freeing up some of the money the Kansas Department of Corrections asked for to place inmates in county jails and private facilities. Prison officials say it’s a last resort.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) 

With trees shredded into tinder and homes ripped asunder, scores of families in and around Lawrence and Linwood, Kansas, surveyed lives that forever will be marked by the time before and after Tuesday’s tornado.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

When it comes to marijuana, Kansas is a red state in an increasingly green country.

Three of its neighbors — Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri — have legalized some form of the drug in recent years. Yet Kansas remains one of four states in the country without a comprehensive medical or recreational marijuana program.

Jobs For Felons Hub / CC BY 2.0

Kansas may soon turn to private contractors to take the overflow from its crowded prisons, raising questions about growing costs and the reliability of for-profit jails.

That plan ran into complications over the weekend when lawmakers insisted on a closer review from a state commission to OK some of the line-by-line spending. But taxpayers could soon be spending almost $36 million more to deal with a range of problems in the prison system.

B. Jamie / Public domain

Almost half the people locked up in Kansas prisons admit they have a history of domestic violence — getting the cops called after an argument with a partner, having a restraining order against them or serving time for beating or threatening a family member or partner.

Some of those people end up in batterer intervention programs — sometimes while they’re behind bars, other times during probation or parole. The weekly workshops stretch over months, aiming to pinpoint what drives someone to violence, and searching for ways to break those cycles.

Anna Langova / Public domain

 

A new law standardizing Kansas’ response to child-on-child sexual assault could cost $126,000 and result in more than 3,200 treatment referrals a year.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation Friday that directs the Department for Children and Families to immediately refer a minor to treatment if the agency receives a report that the child sexually abused another child.

William Johnson / U.S. Air Force Photo

Ruslan Ivanov loved being a public defender. What he didn’t love was the way his work constantly followed him — at home, with friends and family, even on vacation.

On one trip to Colorado, he stood in front of a breathtaking mountain view. And started thinking about a case.

Camilo Rueda Lopez / (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Social workers can perform a myriad of tasks. Some check on children in abusive homes and some train foster families. Others support patients through medical procedures like kidney dialysis or provide talk therapy to mental health patients.

But there are too few of them in Kansas.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

A Kansas activist known for her work on transgender issues has died. Stephanie Mott, 61, was a mental health clinician, LGBTQ advocate and prolific public speaker who traveled the country to share her experiences as a transgender Christian woman. 

Mott served as the vice chair of Equality Kansas, chaired the LGBTQ caucus of the Kansas Democrats and founded the Kansas Statewide Transgender Equality Project.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Bills on drug sentencing, probation and marijuana possession stalled in the Kansas Legislature this year. Instead, lawmakers continue to consider appointing a task force to address the criminal justice system as a whole.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The company hired to provide health care in Kansas prisons is getting paid millions less than its contracted amount after failing to meet the agreement’s terms.

State officials reduced payments to Corizon Health because the company failed to hire enough nurses and other health workers. Corizon lost additional money after audits found it fell short of performance standards for a range of medical services.

Now, the Kansas Department of Corrections says the contractor has one more year to look after the health of 10,000 people in its prisons.

Chris Neal of Shooter Imaging / Kansas News Service

After recruiting only three teachers in Kansas last year, nonprofit Teach For America is asking lawmakers for a quarter of a million dollars to continue working for the state.

In 2018, legislators appropriated $520,000 for Teach For America to recruit 12 teachers.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Hunter Defenbaugh loves working in prison.

Five nights a week, the 19-year-old corrections officer works overnight shifts in the infirmary at El Dorado Correctional Facility 30 miles northeast of Wichita. He checks on sick inmates, gives them blankets, calls nurses for help.

Defenbaugh likes the job, he says, because he likes helping people. It beats his old gigs flipping burgers at McDonald’s or ringing up customers at Walmart.

File photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas prisons spend almost four times as much on overtime pay as they did six years ago. 

The state paid out more than $8.2 million on overtime in fiscal year 2018 and is on track to spend even more in 2019, with overtime exceeding $5 million in just the first half of the fiscal year.

That’s compared to fiscal year 2013, when the state paid out just $1.8 million in overtime.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Let’s say you’re arrested. You’re booked into your local jail and the district attorney decides to press charges.

The next day, you make your first court appearance in front of a judge, who then has to make a decision. Let you go home before trial — or keep you in jail?  And under what conditions?

File photo / Kansas News Service

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman both funded much of their losing races for governor of Kansas through self-financing, campaign finance reports filed Thursday show.

Orman spent $1.28 million of his own cash on his campaign and raised about another $1 million from donors.  He also spent several thousand dollars on in-kind contributions, including software and staff lunches.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

A state audit of Kansas’s only juvenile corrections facility uncovered allegations of violence between staff members and sexual relationships between workers and the underage inmates.

A survey attempted to reach 229 current and former employees of the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka. Only 48 responded.

File photo / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature agreed to pay education nonprofit Teach For America more than $500,000 this year for a pilot program to recruit 12 teachers to the state.

But the national organization only recruited three teachers for the state in 2018.  All of them were placed in Kansas City, Kansas, where the local school district pays their salaries and benefits on top of another $3,000 per teacher per year to Teach For America.

Google Street View

A federal judge has ruled that Ford County, Kansas, does not have to provide a second polling place in Dodge City on Election Day.

In a ruling late Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in late October on behalf of a Dodge City resident and a Latino community organization. 

Google

Local organizers in Dodge City fought for more, and more accessible, polling places even before their lone, out-of-the-way voting location drew national attention.

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued County Clerk Debbie Cox.

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The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-1 on Tuesday to undo Obama-era rules intended to help small companies provide faster wireless internet service.

The FCC said the decision will foster more investment and use of the 3.5 gigahertz band, a radio frequency spectrum that can be used for 5G internet service.

But small wireless internet service providers said the decision could shut smaller players out — limiting their ability to bid on licenses and deliver broadband in rural areas.

File photo / Kansas News Service

Kris Kobach says his proposal to reform Kansas Medicaid could save the state $2 billion.

At campaign events, the Republican nominee for governor touts the benefits of combining Medicaid with direct primary care, an unconventional payment system that avoids the bureaucracy of health insurance.

Darko Stojanovic / CC0 Creative Commons

Few issues split Kansas politics like the Obama-era expansion of Medicaid.

Unlike 33 other states, Kansas still hasn't expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.  The decision would pay for the health care of thousands of people who don’t currently meet the program’s stringent eligibility requirements.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Fresh off a victory that cemented his latest, controversial, pick for the nation’s high court, President Donald Trump came to Kansas Saturday night hoping to transfer his popularity in the state to two fellow Republicans.

Trump arrived just hours after Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — the most controversial appointment to the court in generations. He was in regular rally form, playing to an adoring crowd of some 10,000 thrilled supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

A committee of Kansas judges and attorneys says cities need to reduce the costs of appearing in municipal court.

The Kansas Supreme Court appointed the ad hoc committee last September to assess whether the state’s municipal courts impose an unreasonable financial burden on low-income people. 

A report released Wednesday lists more than a dozen suggestions to reduce or simplify fees, bail and monetary fines that come with being arrested and charged with a crime.