Security review planned for Larned State Hospital following recent escapes

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) on Tuesday announced it’s been working with the Corrections Leaders Association to retain an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive security review at Larned State Hospital (LSH).

KDADS said Kansas Governor Laura Kelly directed the department to begin searching for an external security firm to review the state hospital after a man named John Colt escaped from the LSH Sexual Predator Treatment Program in June.  He was captured in Utah three months later. With Tuesday’s report that Isaac Nathaniel Watts walked away from the state hospital 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,” Governor Kelly said“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.”

KDADS said the Correctional Leaders Association is assisting the department “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.”

KDADS said it expects the security review of Larned State Hospital to begin onsite in February, followed by a written report with recommendations available by the end of March.

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