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Archive for Wednesday, September 11, 2013

State report shows safety, security problems in sexual predator treatment program

September 11, 2013, 10:47 a.m. Updated September 11, 2013, 2:31 p.m.

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— A state audit of the sexual predator treatment program at Larned State Hospital found problems that could affect the safety and security of staff and offenders.

“Quite frankly, I think this facility is a disaster waiting to happen,” said state Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

The report released Wednesday depicted an understaffed facility manned by overworked employees. Under these conditions, some safety and security precautions have been overlooked and need to be improved, the audit said.

During a meeting of the Legislative Post Audit Committee, state officials said staffing levels at Larned were improving, and that many of the audit’s recommendations were being implemented.

But Eldon Dillingham, of Wamego, whose son is in the treatment program, said the employee issues were much worse than the administration let on.

“Morale is zero down there,” Dillingham said.

Established in 1994, the program provides treatment for sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences but have been determined by the courts to be sexual predators in need of involuntary treatment. Some within the program have complained that the commitment is the equivalent of a life sentence since only three people have ever completed the program while 22 have died while under commitment.

As of April, there were 219 residents in the sexual predator treatment program at Larned, and seven at Osawatomie State Hospital.

In surveys returned by employees of the program in Larned, only half felt safe while working, and only half felt the residents were living in a safe and secure environment. In addition, 40 percent said safety and security did not seem like a high priority for management.

In 2012, staff worked 38,000 hours of overtime, compared with 6,700 hours in 2010. And as of April, 30 percent of direct care staff positions were vacant.

In a response to the audit, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan said the employee vacancy rate had since April decreased to 23 percent, due to aggressive recruitment strategies and work on improving retention. In addition, he said overtime was trending downward.

The audit recommended moving the program from western Kansas to an area where there would be more potential job applicants. But KDADS said such a recommendation was premature.

Of the employee surveys, about 70 percent said they experienced verbal threats, and 15 percent said they experienced physical threats over the past year.

The audit also found that the program didn’t have adequate policies or controls to ensure keys and doors were secure and it reported that some residents obtained prohibited items, such as alcohol, cell phones and pornography.

In his response, Sullivan said by the end of August, all mailed packages will be scanned and more metal detectors have been purchased and will be functional by November.

Comments

Carol Bowen 7 months, 1 week ago

The sexual predator program isn't the only program affected. All the programs are. I did not know that the head of state hospitals is an appointed position until governor Brownback removed experienced leaders with his appointees. The budget cutting was obvious after the new appointments. The state hospitals are in bad shape.

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Janice Seymour 7 months, 1 week ago

I agree with jafs - When you cut funding, and demand that government "do more with less", you get a decline in the quality of services. I know staff out there that have been knocked unconscious, hit, kicked, etc. by the patients. The Over time is ridiculous and is harmful to all. This is one of the largest employers out there in an area where there isn't much employment and you think bringing it somewhere else will help get you qualified employees? Lousy pay, long hours and no protection will not get you more or better employees no matter where you move to.

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akt2 7 months, 1 week ago

deec - Incarcerate or commit, same difference. It means confined, and the longer the better. Sexual predators cost society too much time, money and effort trying to rehabilitate them and their victims for life. In addition to those they have preyed upon and violated, consider the monumental emotional toll they inflict by the nature of their deviant behavior. The families on both sides, neighbors, teachers, co-workers etc., and the answer to your question is: until they turn to dust.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 months, 1 week ago

My former work put me in meetings where these issues at Larned were being discussed and solutions explored. This is not about the SO program as much as it is about the entire facility. No department there is properly staffed. Extreme overtime hours are being worked all over the facility. The whole thing is a nightmare of downward spiraling morale due to constant overtime and low pay for state workers. What's also on the rise: Critical incidents. They don't pay enough, so they can't hire workers away from private industry jobs in towns that don't suck to live in. The result is 1) not enough workers, 2) poorly qualified workers (the kind that slap people around) and runaway morale issues.

This is easy to fix... WITH MONEY. But our governor's policies only help the rich. The rest of us are on our own: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ldrVIIAUoY

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acg 7 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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akt2 7 months, 1 week ago

Every time one of these perverted deviants decides to verbally or physically abuse an employee, they need to have more time slapped on to the sentence. Maybe if they start rotting they will consider the big picture. The longer they are incarcerated, the better off society will be. Especially the children and the weak that they prey on.

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jafs 7 months, 1 week ago

Well, are we surprised? When you cut funding, and demand that government "do more with less", you get a decline in the quality of services.

Seems pretty obvious.

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oldbaldguy 7 months, 1 week ago

it should be truth in sentencing. rather than resort to this program, sentences to KDOC should reflect the severity of the offense.

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hipper_than_hip 7 months, 1 week ago

Sex crimes should be a capital offense.

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