Kansas Committee Hears Review of Justice Reinvestment Project Before Considering Additional Policy Recommendations

February 6, 2023

On November 30, 2022, CSG Justice Center staff presented a comprehensive review of Kansas’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) project, implementation progress, and remaining challenges to the Kansas State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight.

Since July 2020, CSG Justice Center staff have collaborated with the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission, Kansas Sentencing Commission, and other policy working groups to assess criminal justice practices across Kansas. The JRI process helped identify three key challenges: (1) increases in sentences to prison for drug offenses, (2) use of prison sanctions for people who violate supervision conditions, and (3) limited behavioral health and reentry supports.

The following JRI recommendations were designed to address those challenges:

  • Diversion and Specialty Courts: Create preconviction and postconviction diversion opportunities, especially for people who have mental health and substance use disorder needs, and expand expungement opportunities.
  • Community Supervision: Promote best practices and improve system effectiveness by reducing redundancies and inefficiencies and improve coordination and collaboration between supervision agencies.
  • Behavioral Health: Increase access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and continuums of care, which include expanded services, crisis response, and reentry coordination.
  • Reentry: Expand access to housing resources, increase education and employment opportunities, and leverage collaboration between agencies to improve coordinated care.

In addition to implementing administrative policy recommendations in each of these four policy areas, Kansas passed seven JRI bills and implemented one supreme court rule. Four JRI bills passed in the 2021 legislative session and three bills passed in the 2022 legislative session, each with bipartisan support.

Members of the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight will reconvene during the 2023 Kansas legislative session to consider additional policy recommendations to reinforce JRI efforts and help advance Kansas’s goals of maintaining public safety, reducing recidivism, and using limited taxpayer dollars efficiently.

CSG Justice Center staff recommended several additional strategies to ensure the sustainability and impact of policy changes, including developing data monitoring structures, incorporating racial equity measures, and monitoring criminal justice-related legislative policy. CSG Justice Center staff will continue to engage with key state stakeholders and agency leadership to discuss the sustainability of JRI policies.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

About the author

Kendric H. headshot
Policy Analyst, State Initiatives
Kendric Holder provides expert guidance to states advancing new policies and practices to achieve public safety goals through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Previously, Kendric was a research fellow for the Southern Education Foundation, where he assisted with primary research and
policy analysis that resulted in equitable and effective systems change for students from low-income households in the South. He has also worked for the City of Huntsville’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and as a philanthropy intern with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville, seeking to advance equity and improve the quality of life in Huntsville, Alabama. Kendric holds a BA in political science and a minor in history with honors from Alabama A&M University.  
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