LCF East Unit to be converted to drug treatment facility

John Richmeier/Leavenworth Times

The old East Unit of the Lansing Correctional Facility will be converted into a drug treatment facility for inmates in the state correctional system.

The state budget signed this past week by Gov. Laura Kelly includes $3.5 million in funding to renovate the East Unit, according to Carol Pitts, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Corrections.

The renovated facility will house 200 inmates and provide programs focused on the substance abuse needs of the inmates.

Construction work may begin in the fall. It is anticipated the facility will open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has praised the inclusion of the funding for the facility in the state budget.

According to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office, the facility will house minimum-security inmates whose criminal behavior is determined to be the result of addiction to drugs or alcohol.

“Funding this groundbreaking drug treatment facility is a bold step toward meaningful criminal justice reform that can make our communities safer by more effectively working to break the cycle of addiction that is at the root of so much repeated criminal misbehavior,” Schmidt said in the news release.

Special criminal sentencing rules designed to target certain inmates for intensive drug treatment while in prison have been on the books for more than a decade, but they never have been used because the sentences are to be served in a specialized drug treatment prison, which is not available, according to the news release.

According to Attorney General’s Office, funding for a state drug treatment prison was first approved in 2007. But that project was canceled in 2009 because of an economic downturn.

Funding for the current project was approved in 2020. But the project was put on hold last year as a measure to manage the state budget amid concerns about the economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Pitts.

Funding was included again in this year’s budget.

Funding for the operation of the facility will be requested in the next budget cycle. KDOC officials believe the facility will require a staff of about 42 people.

The East Unit at LCF was closed after minimum-security inmates were moved from that location to a new dormitory building in late 2019.

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