Larned prison changes raise employment concerns


LARNED, Kan. (KSNW) – The Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility and Larned State Hospital are one of the town’s largest employers. Officials said the change at the correctional facility could move staff to El Dorado — raising employment concerns in the community.

“The whole intent of building the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility was to treat mentally inmates and to try to re-integrate them into the normal prison system,” said resident Rita Kurtz.

She questioned how the change will benefit the community.

“We have the staff here that could treat mental health patients,” she said.

Now, the staff could be leaving.

“We could lose anywhere from 35 to 50 employees,” Kurtz said. “Our community will be hurt by that.”

Job loss is one concern, but Larned’s mayor is asking what new jobs will be added and what will that salary look like.

“Even if you’re replacing them with different jobs, if that same person can’t transition into that job with the same pay scale, then you have concerns of their family and members of the community,” said William Nusser. “They’re going to have to relocate or find a different job.”

The new program will add a 300-bed unit to the facility, and the mayor is hopeful that will be an opportunity to add more jobs such as correction officers. Barton Community College is also involved in the new program, community members are hoping even more jobs come out of that partnership.

They added it was too early to say if the change could have a negative or positive impact. They still have lots of questions and they’re hoping the Department of Corrections holds a public meeting to get those questions answered.

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