Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is moving mental health inmates between state facilities as a way to alleviate staffing shortages at Larned State Hospital.
The plan includes moving dozens of inmates with mental health issues from Larned State Hospital units to another facility on the same campus run by the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Brownback said the inmates will still receive psychiatric services once they’re moved.
“You want to make sure that you’ve got people in the right place so you can maximize your space and your utilization of it. Those are management things,” Brownback said Friday.
Larned is home to the state’s sexual predator treatment program, which was found to be near capacity during a recent audit.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, said the plan to relocate inmates won’t fix staffing and funding challenges at the state hospitals, which provide treatment to Kansans with mental health issues who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.
“It’s kind of shuffling things around,” she said. “It might provide some very short-term relief. I think long-term it does nothing to deal with the underlying problems.”
Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, agrees that the move doesn’t create a lasting solution to staffing problems.
“It is at best a temporary Band-Aid,” she says.
Proctor is concerned some inmates who need psychiatric care will be moved to facilities where corrections staff don’t have mental health training.
The other state hospital Kansas facility, Osawatomie State Hospital, lost its federal certification in December because of staffing and safety concerns.