Audit continues to see problems at Kansas juvenile center

Courtesy of: Kansas Department of Corrections (http://www.doc.ks.gov/juvenile-services/facilities/kjcc)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Video shows that officers at Kansas’ complex for juvenile offenders in Topeka did not complete required checks for young offenders considered suicide risks multiple times despite recording in a log that they had, according to a state audit.

The report from the Legislature’s auditing division found that the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex has addressed most problems disclosed in an earlier 2012 audit but still does not adequately supervise young offenders. The maximum-security complex houses about 140 juveniles.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that auditors recommended that the complex establish a more formal and documented process to verify that officers perform required checks on offenders.

The audit said complex officials will continue to instruct supervisors to perform spot checks of duties performed by staff and will use coaching and discipline when discrepancies continue to occur.

“We will continue to focus on incrementally enhancing our efforts and outcomes,” Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts wrote in response to the audit.

Auditors tested a random sample of 11 suicide precaution logs and were able to review videos associated with three logs. Auditors found that in all three, officers had not performed the necessary visual checks.

In one case, the audit said, an offender who was supposed to be checked 12 times in three hours was only checked three times. In the other two cases, video footage included extended “blacked-out” periods because of inactivity, indicating officers did not perform checks.

In another case, a review of video footage showed a period of inactivity lasting about two hours for an offender who was supposed to receive checks at least every 15 minutes. Another period of inactivity lasted 45 minutes.

“In all three cases described above, officers had documented that checks were completed during the periods where we saw no evidence of checks on surveillance footage,” the audit said.

The audit said that since 2012, the complex has a new process to track investigations of abuse and neglect as well as sexual assault and has a process to internally review critical incidents. A new process has also been implemented to address prohibited items. All address issues found in the earlier report.

Republican Sen. Jeff Longbine, of Emporia, a member of the legislative committee overseeing auditors’ work, said substantial improvements have been made over the past three years.

“So I was pleased with the progress that was made but also realize we have a ways to go yet,” he said.

But Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly, of Topeka, expressed concern about “staff not being honest” and said the committee wants the complex to “get with it” in supervising offenders.

Full audit: “Department of Corrections: Evaluating Safety Issues at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex.”

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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