Is Kansas program treating sexual predators or making them worse?

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - They are sexual predators convicted of preying on women and children. The State of Kansas considers them so dangerous; the convicts cannot go home without years of psychotherapy.

The Kansas sexual predator treatment program has a $14 million dollar budget. It’s money that safety net programs envy. However, those benefiting from the program’s treatment could not care less.

“I don’t think I could ever be around children anymore,” Brull said. “I’m not sure of myself. They’ve turned children into a sexual thing for me that wasn’t there before.”

Convicted and sentenced of soliciting a child for sex in 1997. Brull spent two years in Kansas prisons. When released, he was forced to live at Larned State Hospital, in Larned, Kansas.

Background

Brull committed one of 13 crimes labeled “sexually violent” under a state law passed in 1994 . It allows judges to sentence offenders like Brull to civil commitments after time served.

In Kansas, all of those “patients” move into Larned for the sexual predator treatment program.

In a 1997 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program’s legality in Kansas v. Hendricks . State law demands the facility not feel like a prison.

“No New Victims”
Despite the barbed wire and security cameras surrounding buildings housing the SPTP, the agency running the program said it is simple a secure therapy center.

Ray Dalton is Deputy Secretary for Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services, the agency in charge.

“One of our primary missions is no new victims,” Dalton said.

Few get out

By “no new victims” Dalton means patients never re-offend. However, few ever get out.

Since the program’s genesis 16 years ago, only two people have earned final release, according to state records. 16 people earned conditional release or were released by a state judge for other reasons. 15 others died in the program.

The SPTP program is near capacity at Larned with 197 patients. The population grows every year.

Taxpayers are spending roughly $69,000 a year per patient, according to state officials. That’s more than double the cost of prison inmates. However, that price is cheap compared to other states like Missouri, where taxpayers spend $98,915 per patient.

“If we’re going to continue with the philosophy of no new victims, it just needs to continue to receive the resources it needs to continue the work that it is doing,” Dalton said.

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy produced a study comparing programs from different states .

“You never get your issues addressed”

“You never get your issues addressed,” Brull said.

Brull claims there is no treatment at Larned. Instead, he said patients get exposed to unthinkable perversion.

“It’s a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah and it’s awful,” Brull said. “The staff has allowed in child pornography, child nudist films; I’ve sat in conversations in group where there have been discussions of bestiality.”

SRS is leery of Brull’s claims, but they admit problems.

George Dudley escape

In August, a Larned patient named George Dudley escaped during a visit to the Wyandotte County Courthouse. Surveillance video showed Dudley was unrestrained. Larned staff members who were supposed to be guarding him left Dudley alone in a hallway. He walked away and was on the run for nearly 24 hours before capture.

“We’ve reviewed that and are taking actions to prevent that from happening again in the future,” Dalton said.

Though caught hours later, Dudley’s escape drew criticism of Larned security. Wyandotte County’s jail administrator said Larned staff brought four patients to Wyandotte County the day Dudley escaped. Not all of those patients were restrained, meaning some were bigger flight risks than others.

“I’m not really sure what their policies and procedures are, but they (Larned staff) were mixing custody grades it looks like,” said Jeffery Fewell, Jail Administrator for Wyandotte County.

Group: It’s not treatment

Some mental health advocates with Mental Health America remain critical of Kansas and other states with similar sexual predator laws.

The group claims sex offenders often have no diagnosable mental illness . So, they consider sexual predator treatment expensive punishment.

“It does, in the short term, divert resources, state general funds from community-based mental health services,” said Susan Crain Lewis, director of Mental Health America of the Heartland.

However, Crain Lewis personally believes Kansas’ program needs more time to prove its worth.

“I understand why folks would say, oh, only two people have come out,” Crain Lewis said. “Well, the program is a long-term program. It would be like starting a 12-year charter school today with a fresh bunch of kids and being really upset in two years that no one had graduated from high school.”

In 2005, the State of Kansas ordered an audit of Larned’s SPTP . It came to similar conclusions.

Brull remains critical.

“It’s a joke,” he said.

Brull has filed numerous legal petitions against the program

. Recently, he convinced an appeals court to look into alleged violations of Brull’s constitutional rights.

“I don’t trust them,” Brull said. “They haven’t had my best interests at heart and so I’m not getting therapy.”

Without therapy, Brull will never get out. He also will never re-offend, which meets the hospital’s primary goal of “no new victims.”
 

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