Nomin Ujiyediin

Nomin is a Kansas News Service reporting fellow at KCUR.

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.

“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.

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.

(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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.