TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The State of Kansas wants a faster independent review after a second person escaped from Larned State Hospital.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services said it has been working with the Correctional Leaders Association to retain an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive security review at Larned State Hospital.
Governor Laura Kelly directed KDADS to begin the search for an external security firm to review LSH following the escape of John Colt from the sexual predator treatment program earlier this year. Colt was captured in Wayne County, Utah on Sept. 27, 2021.
After Tuesday’s report that Isaac Nathaniel Watts walked away from the LSH crisis stabilization unit Monday night, Kelly directed the agency to accelerate the review.
“This administration is taking action to identify and fix the flaws that allowed two dangerous residents to escape from a state-operated facility, to ensure that it does not happen again,” Kelly said in a statement. “At my directive, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is working expeditiously to retain an independent, external organization to work with staff at the agency and at Larned State Hospital to perform a comprehensive review and produce recommendations to improve security and keep Kansans safe.”
The Correctional Leaders Association (CLA) is made up of correctional leaders of all US state corrections agencies, Los Angeles County, the District of Columbia, New York City, Philadelphia, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and any United States territory, possession, and/or commonwealth. CLA is assisting KDADS to quickly identify an external firm with the needed experience in secure settings, civil commitment programs, and the needs of patients with mental health needs.
“Once we have retained an external firm, we will work closely with them to diagnose the full scope of protocols for elopement responses and a review of staff culture including their experience with the policies and practice,” KDADS Secretary Laura Howard said. “Across Kansas, our state-run facility staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, and this security review will help support their mission.”
Once the proposal is finalized, KDADS anticipates the review will begin on-site in February this year, with a written report, including recommendations, available by the end of March.