January 31, 2012

Most Kansas sexual predators don't leave program

1-30-2012 Kansas:

Sexually violent predators who are ordered to a state hospital for treatment after serving prison sentences are almost never released, and Kansas officials say they expect the overcrowded program to continue expanding.

The Sexual Predator Treatment Program, which began in 1994, gave prosecutors a place to indefinitely hold convicted sex offenders who are considered too dangerous to release from prison. Instead, prisoners are sent to Larned State Hospital for treatment with the goal of being released back into society.

But data from the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services shows that only three have been released since 1994, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/wzHrHX ). In the same time period, 17 have died, according to the SRS.

"You don't get out of here," said Mark Brull, a convicted sex offender confined to the program.

Since 2009, about 16 offenders have been committed to the program each year. Current projections predict the program will grow to more than 370 residents by 2020, said SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha.

The program currently costs the state $13 million a year, and the social services department asked the Kansas Legislature in September for another $2 million for facility upgrades to accommodate the anticipated growth.

Treatment for Brull, who was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and indecent solicitation of a child in 1997, costs Kansas about $60,000 per year.

"It's a very expensive warehouse," Brull said.

Treating violent sexual predators can take a significant amount of time, said Larned State Hospital Superintendent Christopher Burke.

"By the nature of their designation, they tend to have more entrenched behaviors," Burke said.

Kansas' treatment program has seven phases, starting with orientation at Larned and ending with a court-approved release and transition back to society. Before being released, offenders progress to closely supervised reintegration at Osawatomie State Hospital and then to conditional release at a residential facility in Miami County, where there are currently seven offenders from the program, Burke said.

Kansas is one of 20 states with sexually violent predator laws, and the growth caused by few releases is "not unique to Kansas," said W.L. Fitch, who teaches mental health law at the University of Maryland.

States that have such laws are in a bind, he said, because the programs become overcrowded or those who are released possibly repeat the offense.

"Politically, it's a huge risk," Fitch said. "You have some folks no one is going to take a chance on."

Critics of involuntary commitment of sex offenders argue that such programs are actually designed to keep offenders locked away with little hope of treatment, Fitch said.

Brull agrees, saying he's "100 times worse" than he was when he entered the program.

"Any kind of carnal knowledge under the sun you're exposed to here," said Brull, who has reached phase three of the program but has given up on progressing.

"I'll either die here or die in prison," he said. ..Source.. by The Washington Examiner

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