Kansas Prison Transitions to Serve Young Adult Offenders

LARNED, Kan. — The Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility (LCMHF) is shifting its mission to more efficiently meet the changing needs of the state’s offender population. In a statement, the Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) announced it is modifying the mission of LCMHF, which this summer will transition into a specialized program for offenders ages 18 to 25. The new programming will focus on education and vocational training in efforts to better prepare inmates for successful community re-entry.

The increasing population of offenders requiring the level of mental health services provided at LCMHF has outgrown the available space, the DOC said in a statement. Those services are currently being provided at both LCMHF and the El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF), but will now be consolidated at EDCF. This consolidation will provide for a more efficient delivery of the essential behavioral health services, while maintaining safe operations. Consolidating the program at EDCF will also provide an additional 50 to 60 beds for the behavioral health program, which serves offenders with severe and persistent mental illness.

In addition to increasing bed space, EDCF is located in close proximity to Wichita, a fact which correctional leaders anticipate will make it easier to meet the program’s staffing needs. EDCF is also home to the intake unit for male offenders entering the DOC. Placing the behavioral health unit at the same facility as the male intake unit will reduce the need to transport these offenders between facilities to receive services, according to a statement by the DOC.

Meanwhile, the LCMHF campus will add a 300-bed unit for young adult male offenders requiring educational and/or substance abuse services. The program will specifically aim to reduce recidivism and prepare offenders for community re-entry. The 18- to 25-year-old male offender demographic currently has the state’s highest recidivism rates. Fewer than half have high school diplomas or GEDs, and they have few marketable job skills, according to a statement by the DOC.

The state’s contracted provider for medical and mental health services, Corizon Health of Brentwood, Tenn., currently has 35 staff assigned to LCMHF. The change of mission at LCMHF, however, will shift some of those positions to EDCF. Both DOC and Corizon officials are working together to ensure that Corizon employees have an opportunity to transfer to EDCF.

The DOC also stated that the 288-bed West Unit at LCMHF will not be affected by this change and will continue to house minimum-custody male inmates who are participating in programming and job assignments. Also unaffected will be the beds reserved at the Larned State Hospital for DOC inmates. Further, the DOC does not expect the number of state jobs at LCMHF to be reduced by the mission change.