Larned mental Health Facility
LARNED If it weren't for the security guards and the barbed-wire fence, it might pass for a community-college campus.
The Sexual Predator Treatment Program at Larned State Hospital lies in the center of the state, tucked into the Kansas prairie a few miles outside Larned, accessible by a winding, rural road.
It's a quiet fact of life for people in this city of 5, 000 that the hospital is home to about 130 people labeled as Kansas' most dangerous sex offenders.
"As long as you don't get no trouble :" said Wilbur Graver, 79, a retired hospital worker who was relaxing on a recent morning along the city's main drag. "You don't hear too much complaining. It probably ain't no different than anywhere else."
Few Kansans - in Larned or anywhere else - have seen fit to complain about the program since it began 11 years ago.
In theory, it's a place where the most dangerous sex offenders are sent after being released from prison. They're there to get mental health treatment until they're safe to return to society.
But in the past year, it's become clear the formula isn't that simple. More people are entering the program, costs are growing, but only one person has completed treatment.
And critics say there are still major, unanswered questions about whether the program is actually doing what it was created to do. To some, the program is essentially prison at three times the cost to taxpayers.
"There's room for improvement there, and I don't think the state has been extremely honest about what goes on, " said Tim Davis, a former clinical group leader at Larned, now a professor at Fort Hays State University.
In the spotlight
Two events this year have put the program in the public eye.
First, the state caused an uproar with its plan to release Leroy Hendricks to a geriatric group home near Lawrence in rural Leavenworth County. The plan is now on hold as an appeals court considers whether the county can use zoning laws to keep Hendricks out.
Then, a study by the state found that the program's population could triple in coming decades and that, in 11 years, only one person had successfully finished the program. If the trend continues, it will cost Kansans millions more dollars in years ahead.
The program cost $6.9 million this year and is expected to cost at least $7.8 million next year. According to state numbers, it cost about $150 per day last year to house someone at the sexual-predator program, compared with about $53 per day in a Kansas prison.
The study released this spring, by the state's Division of Legislative Post Audit, found that "many residents aren't progressing through the Program's phases on a timely basis."
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Davis, the former staff member, said he believes the residents aren't entirely to blame for that. He said the program has been a "political disaster" for the state and that there's pressure to not let people out.
"I think they're disingenuous in how willing they are to let people go through the program, " he said. "That was really one of the things that caused me to leave. I couldn't any longer look at the residents and say, 'Work hard, and you'll get out.'"
The program's clinical director, Austin DesLauriers, said he's never been directed to not let residents work through the program. But he said staff members occasionally get feedback "that there is some real resistance to the idea of graduates of our program re-entering the community."
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican, is chairwoman of the Kansas House committee that oversees funding for SRS, which operates the sexual-predator program. She said that after the state's study was released, lawmakers asked SRS for follow-up information.
"What we've asked for is 'Can we show that we're making progress with these individuals? Can we show that we have an effective program that is actually moving some individuals to the day they can be released?'" she said. "And those questions haven't been able to be answered yet."
In 1994, Kansas was at the forefront of a nationwide movement to find ways to keep sex offenders locked up after their prison sentence had expired. The state's predator law was passed in response to the murder of Pittsburg State University student Stephanie Schmidt.
It allows sex offenders to be sent indefinitely to Larned if they're found to have a "mental abnormality" or "personality disorder" that made them likely to engage in repeated acts of sexual violence.
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"I'll be honest: At the very first, when we made this law we didn't have any forethought of very many of these people being released at all, " said Gene Schmidt, Stephanie Schmidt's father. "These are bad guys, and they're not going to want to change."
Kansas' first inmate was Hendricks, a repeat child molester whose challenge to the law went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hendricks said the law violated constitutional protection against being punished twice for the same crime.
But in 1997, the court allowed for a nationwide expansion of the laws by finding Kansas' program legal because it wasn't a form of criminal punishment.
Eventually, 15 more states passed laws similar to the Kansas program. Nearly a decade after the ruling, Kansas isn't the only state with a ballooning predator population. In New Jersey, for example, 311 people had been admitted to that state's program as of December, and none had been released.
Paul Appelbaum, a former president of the American Psychiatric Assn., said he's not aware of any systematic efforts to see how well the programs nationwide are meeting their goals. But, like Davis, he questions what Kansas is getting for the money.
"These statutes - of which Kansas' is exemplary - really are a pretense for efforts to lock up sexual offenders for an indefinite period of time, " said Appelbaum, a University of Massachusetts professor. "Although they come framed as therapeutic in intent, everything about them suggests that treating these people is not the real goal."
Hospital or prison?
On the way into a visitation area at the sexual-predator program, a security guard instructs visitors to put all sharp items - screwdrivers, pocket knives, nail files - into a locker so they can't be seized by an inmate.
David Heide, a 45-year-old roofer from Lee's Summit, Mo., was convicted in 1990 of breaking into a woman's apartment in Johnson County, holding her at knifepoint, fondling her and masturbating on top of her.
During the Journal-World's visit, he was dressed all in black with a cross dangling from his neck. He said he accepted Jesus into his life April 7, 2004, while awaiting his sexual-predator determination trial.
Increase in the number of people being labeled predators.
"I believe God put me here for a reason, " Heide said.
On a typical day, Heide said, he has group therapy at 8 a.m., a "cognitive skills" class at 9, a leisure wood shop at 11, lunch at noon and recreation activities the rest of the day. He has one-on-one therapy for an hour every two weeks.mother teresa good deeds good deeds 2012 dvd cover good deeds full length movie good deeds full movies when is good deeds coming to dvd movie good deeds trailer good deeds dvd good deeds movie doing good deeds good deeds 2 no good deeds movie 2014 good thoughts good deeds examples of good deeds no good deeds movie reviews good deeds 2012 good deeds bracelet tyler perry good deeds soundtrack songs ramadan good deeds someone who does good deeds good deeds sex scene good deeds lace up dress good deeds to do at school tim tebow good deeds good deeds streaming good deeds bible verse doing good deeds in secret good deeds soundtrack tupac good deeds day 2016 kevin hart good deeds good deeds tyler perry release date do good deeds trump's good deeds good deeds tyler perry seth okin good deeds scholarship my good deeds bible verse about good deeds thomas and friends henry's good deeds good deeds of donald trump our good deeds are as filthy rags kkk good deeds good deeds in the news 2017 good deeds sex scene clifford the big red dog good deeds michael jordan good deeds tyler perry good deeds soundtrack good deeds done by donald trump how to do good deeds what does the bible say about bragging about good deeds tyler perry good deeds torrent tyler perry movies good deeds trailer police officer doing good deeds no good deeds movie torrent good deeds without recognition ten good deeds good deeds full movie viooz 365 days of good deeds do good deeds bible verse the good deeds movie good deeds lilburn good deeds should be done with intention not for attention all good deeds go unpunished good deeds in the news 2016 she sees my good deeds good deeds at christmas no good deeds online essay good deeds for life three good deeds book madea good deeds movie doing good deeds for others good deeds are like filthy rags tyler perry good deeds cast order of the stick good deeds gone unpunished scripture about doing good deeds in secret good deeds imdb 3 good deeds doing good deeds images good deeds dvd redbox good deeds manger craft are all good deeds selfish watch no good deeds online doing good deeds essay christopher columbus good deeds 100 good deeds show cast of good deeds good thoughts good words good deeds quotes kids doing good deeds do good deeds in silence good deeds foundation watch tyler perry's good deeds online free do more good deeds random good deeds spur one another to love and good deeds no good deeds movie review good deeds movie tyler perry good thoughts good words good deeds in farsi good thoughts good words, good deeds quote bible verse about good deeds quote on good deeds