Saturday, December 22, 2012

KS - Seven years later, auditors’ questions about sex-offender programs remain unanswered

Original Article


By Travis Perry

OSAWATOMIE - The Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program could face another audit, even though the Larned State Hospital program and the state Department of Corrections have yet to address at least one issue found by auditors some seven years ago.

Recent scrutiny of some state lawmakers has placed the Larned program back into the spotlight after a pair of legislative committees asked the state conduct a second performance audit.

Republicans Carolyn McGinn, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and Marc Rhoades, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, expressed concern over the expanding population of sexual predators living at Larned, saying low release rates suggest the program isn’t effective in rehabilitating offenders.

But a 2005 audit of the Larned SPTP (PDF) highlighted the apparent lack of faith officials have in the state’s other sex-offender treatment program, orchestrated by the DOC. At the time, auditors said just more than half of the 156 individuals in the Larned program had gone through some kind of previous program while serving out their prison sentences.

Program officials told us that completion of the treatment program in prison generally has no impact on — and shouldn’t be used as an indicator of — how well a resident will progress in the Sexual Predator Treatment Program,” the audit said.

The DOC program is contracted to the Lenexa-based company Clinical Associates, which uses a mix of evidence-based therapy techniques to decrease an offender’s risk to the community and increase pro-social behavior. While SPTP therapy methods aren’t much different, the sticking point is the level of expectation.

To complete the prison program, an offender only has to demonstrate a desire to change,” the audit stated. “To complete the Sexual Predator Treatment Program, residents have to demonstrate that they have changed and can control their thought processes.”

Information on the number of people now in the Larned program who have completed the DOC program was not immediately available.

Jeremy Barclay, DOC communications director, defended the department’s process and said the program works, but some offenders are more difficult to reach than others.

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