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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

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

hipper_than_hip 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Sex crimes should be a capital offense.

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oldbaldguy 11 months, 3 weeks 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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jafs 11 months, 3 weeks 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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akt2 11 months, 3 weeks 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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deec 11 months, 3 weeks ago

There is no sentence on which time can be added. They've served their sentences, then subsequently been involuntarily committed for the duration. Since 22 have already died in the program, I'm not sure how much more rotting you'd like them to do.

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acg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 months, 3 weeks 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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ridikkulus 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's privatize it! For Profit! Then, instead of making money off of prisoners in the "War on Drugs", the rich can make more money off of the "War on Pedophilia"!

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akt2 11 months, 3 weeks 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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deec 11 months, 3 weeks ago

So we live in a society where someone can murder several people and eventually be turned loose to do it again if they so choose, but someone can molest a child and never be done serving their sentence? I acknowledge these people have committed heinous acts or they wouldn't have been in prison. I object to the concept that someone can do their time and never be set free because they might do it again in the future. Preemptive incarceration is a horrid thing; since the precedent has been set, it is possible it could be expanded in the future when convenient, like, say, alleged terrorists.

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oldbaldguy 11 months, 3 weeks ago

it is not treatment, it is punitive. the supremes have said it is constitutional. osawatomie has the same problem, long hours, fewer employees and end in sight on population.

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deec 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Absolutely. If it were effective treatment, why have they only managed to cure 3 people?

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jafs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

It's very hard, and perhaps impossible to "cure" pedophiles.

Should we just give them life sentences in prison instead?

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deec 11 months, 3 weeks ago

At least that would be honest. It is dangerous to freedom to lock people up for life after they have served their criminal sentence.

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Janice Seymour 11 months, 3 weeks 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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deec 11 months, 3 weeks ago

But...but...any job is better than none, right? They should just be grateful to have a job. Those workers are lazy slackers who don't want to work hard. They'd rather have the government take care of them than be grateful for the opportunity. If they weren't lazy government workers, they'd improve their skills and get a better-paying job. After all, there's plenty of opportunity in the pedophile treatment industry. They just need to work harder so they can get raises and promotions. Better yet, privatize it so corporate America can pay better, offer better benefits, and still somehow make a profit.

Did I miss any? :)

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Carol Bowen 11 months, 3 weeks 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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