Impending budget cuts have prompted the Kansas Department of Corrections to consider closing two minimum-security prisons in El Dorado, although no final decision has been made.

“Every aspect of our operation is under review for potential reductions or eliminations in funding” because of state revenue shortfalls, department spokesman Bill Miskell said Friday.

The Corrections Department is trying to find ways to cut more than $5 million this fiscal year and more than $13 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We have in the past discussed the possibility of closing several of those minimum-security satellite units at El Dorado, at Lansing and at Norton in Stockton,” Miskell said.

The department recently said it is ending contracts for its day reporting centers in Wichita and Topeka and for the women's camp in Labette County. Inmates at the day reporting centers will remain on parole.

The two minimum-security facilities in El Dorado employ 37 people and any cuts or closings also would cost the town hundreds of volunteer hours from inmates, El Dorado officials said.

The maximum-security unit at El Dorado Correctional Facility, where inmates such as BTK serial killer Dennis Rader are housed, has not been discussed as a closure target.

“This is all budget,” Miskell said. “We have got to go through and review everything we are doing to determine what kinds of cuts we can make that will have a minimum negative impact on public safety and on other aspects of department operation.”

David Alfaro, director of economic development for Butler County, said any cuts to the minimum-security prisons would hurt. Besides providing jobs, the facilities buy supplies from El Dorado and Butler County businesses.

“It would make a big impact on us,” Alfaro said.

The inmates’ volunteer work also would be missed, said Linda Jolly, executive director of El Dorado Inc., a nonprofit economic development organization that works with the city.

One of the units held 93 inmates Thursday and the other unit held 68. Many are nearing the end of their prison terms and are preparing for release.

Jolly said the inmates volunteer work maintains El Dorado Lake park areas, provides labor for large community events, runs the city’s recycling center and helps her organization with small remodeling projects.

“The program to have inmates work in your community is different than I thought it would be before I came here,” she said. “They’re very skilled, courteous individuals that work in our community. You don’t have the fear like some might have.”

Jim Phillips, chairman of the El Dorado Prairie Port Festival, said he has prepared a draft letter to state officials asking the units not be closed.

Every year for 23 years, inmates from the honor camp have spent hours helping prepare for the festival, Phillips said.

“That would not be possible, and I mean that sincerely, it would not be possible to do without the inmate labor,” he said. “Most events that happen in town do so with some inmate labor. So it would be a real tragedy for our community.”