Justice Reinvestment Initiative meets House approval

TOPEKA, Kan.—The bipartisan Kansas Justice Reinvestment initiative, a research and data-driven program aimed at promoting public safety while reducing corrections spending, took one step closer to reality on March 1.

The Kansas House of Representatives approved House Bill 2170, by a 79-44 vote, which was the product of six months of bipartisan, inter-branch analysis of the state’s criminal justice system. The bill will now advance to the Senate for further consideration.

“In the Justice Reinvestment study, we identified some of the core reasons for the current pressures being placed on Kansas’ correctional system,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts. “We found alternatives to building new prisons by focusing on the root causes of people returning to prison.  By providing programming, more immediate sentences, and more supervision to those who we know are most likely to reoffend, we can address recidivism in a much more effective manner.”

The initiative aims to increase public safety by providing more definitive sanctions for probation offenders and raising the level of supervision for parolees, while implementing programs to improve the success rate of re-entry of offenders into society.

These initiatives would work to slow the growth of the state’s prison population. It is calculated that the program will save the state as much as $53 million over the next five years, some of which will be reinvested into the needed programs to increase success and public safety by decreasing returns to prison by offenders.

“We’re very pleased with the reception the Justice Reinvestment legislation received in the House,” Roberts said. “They looked at it closely and found the policies that it proposes would create greater public safety and thereby could produce significant benefit to the citizens of the state.  We are optimistic that the Senate will find it in keeping with our state’s desire for efficient, effective government that increases public safety for all Kansans.”