Staff from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center met with the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission last week to present findings and policy recommendations based on recent assessment activities as part of the state’s Justice Reinvestment effort, which launched in September.
Key takeaways from the CSG Justice Center’s presentation included the following:
- From fiscal years 2015 to 2019, an increase of 1,396 felony sentences was primarily due to sentences for drug possession.
- The use of prison as a sentencing option and as a tool for revocation varies widely by county, but 25 percent of all sentences statewide are sentences to prison.
- Of the top 10 counties that send the most people to prison, Douglas and Crawford Counties used prison in 41 percent and 16 percent of their sentences, respectively. Also, Ford County revoked people to prison in 43 percent of its revocation hearings, and Shawnee revoked people in 19 percent of its hearings.
Kansas is facing an unprecedented budget deficit and must prioritize corrections investments that work to reduce recidivism and maintain public safety. In fiscal year 2019, the state spent an estimated $41 million to incarcerate people for drug offenses and an estimated $43 million to incarcerate people who violated supervision conditions. Through the Justice Reinvestment process, Kansas is aiming to improve the overall outcomes of its criminal justice system and permanently interrupt cycles of recidivism.
The Commission’s subcommittees are now considering policy recommendations related to victims’ issues, violent crime, sentencing, supervision, behavioral health, and reentry. The subcommittees will meet again in the coming weeks to vote on recommendations, and the full Commission will reconvene on November 9 to decide which recommendations to move forward for legislative or administrative action.
Photo caption: Members of the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission met with CSG Justice Center staff on October 12.
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