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Kansas Moving Mental Health Inmates Because Of Staffing Issues


Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is moving mental health inmates between state facilities as a way to alleviate staffing shortages. The plan includes moving dozens of inmates with mental health issues from Larned State Hospital units to another facility run by the Kansas Department of Corrections.

Brownback says 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 says.

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly says this plan won’t fix staffing and funding challenges at the state hospitals.

“I think it’s kind of shuffling things around," she says. "I think 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.

Another Kansas facility, Osawatomie State Hospital, recently lost its federal certification because of staffing and safety concerns.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.