Topeka Some hurt themselves through biting and head-banging, some try to hurt others, and some do both.
They are among the most severely mentally ill prisoners in the Kansas Department of Corrections, according to a recent study that found that 44 percent of the state prison population suffers some mental disorder.
The analysis of mental health treatment within state prisons says the system is short on the beds and staff needed to take care of inmates with mental illness.
“Although the KDOC has established a comprehensive mental health treatment model carried out by the medical contractor, some inmates fall outside of the realm of this treatment model,” according to the analysis done by Kansas University Physicians Inc.
The report showed that more than 3,800 inmates have some mental health problem, not including substance abuse. Of those, more than 1,000 require some form of intensive monitoring and services.
The Corrections Department tries to send inmates it thinks would be better served in a hospital setting to the Larned State Security Hospital. But personnel there say they are not equipped to handle violent patients because of facility and staff limitations, the report said.
The report recommends two additional housing units, male and female, to take care of those needing acute care.
The report, however, makes no estimate on the cost of building and staffing the additions.
“It will be expensive, whatever it is,” said Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz.
The Corrections agency has just absorbed budget cuts of approximately $23.5 million because of the state’s shrinking revenues.
Some of these inmates require round-the-clock monitoring, in addition to medical treatment, Werholtz said.
“We are trying to figure out what the right system is. At this point we are just beginning to try to design some solutions,” he said.
During a hearing on the issue before the House-Senate Oversight Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice, lawmakers sounded sympathetic, but with the state’s budget crisis, they indicated there was little they could do now.
The report provides case studies of 12 inmates with significant needs, most of whom are a danger to themselves and others.
Some have required medical treatment for injuries that they do to themselves. Larned State Security Hospital refused to take several because of the inmates’ aggressiveness. And one man is only allowed out of his cell in a geri-chair.