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Archive for Saturday, September 20, 2008

Expansion at Larned State Hospital sought

September 20, 2008

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— The state expects to run out of space to treat sexual predators at Larned State Hospital by 2012, and local officials are pushing for a major expansion.

Several officials have urged legislators to approve an expansion costing nearly $90 million. That proposal has been outlined by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which operates the hospital.

"Failure to properly fund the Larned sexual predator program is endangering patients, state employees and men and women and children who live in our communities," said Kim Barnes, spokeswoman for the Pawnee County Economic Development Commission.

The Legislative Budget Committee reviewed issues surrounding Larned and its sex predator program during a hearing this week.

The hospital's sexual predator unit houses 168 former prison inmates who are done serving time but have been committed for further treatment because a jury still deems them a danger.

Area officials said staffing shortages endanger safety at Larned. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services' proposal includes money for new staff and operations.

"Short-staffing is a safety issue not only for workers and staff but also for the clients," Edwards County Commissioner Duane Mathes told The Wichita Eagle.

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