State Initiatives: Kansas
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has been one of the most outspoken conservative leaders in support of criminal justice reform. He declared, “We should not be resigned to allowing generation after generation to return to prison because they don’t have the tools to break the cycle. I personally favor a number of these faith-based approaches. But if there are other approaches, let’s try them. This is an enormous problem, and since the ’70s, we have basically just said we’ll lock people up.”i
Brownback, one of the sponsors of the federal Second Chance Act signed by President George W. Bush to facilitate successful offender reentry, inspired positive changes in Kansas when he told a forum in 2005: “I want to see recidivism cut in half in the next five years, and I want it to start in Kansas.”ii
In response to a high rate of re-offending by ex-prisoners, in 2007 the state legislature funded a range of programs—such as education, drug treatment, and supportive housing—to help them reintegrate. The approach appeared to work: the number of ex-offenders returning to prison dropped by 16 percent from 2007 to 2009.iii
However, in 2010, the inmate count and recidivism began to creep up again after funding was reduced for these alternative approaches. In August 2010, the Kansas Sentencing Commission reported a prison population of 8,269, ten more than the system’s capacity, and the commission projects the population rising by another 2000 over ten years.iv Nonetheless, the state still has far fewer inmates than it was projected to have at this time prior to the 2007 changes.
Republican State Representative Pat Colloton, who chairs the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, is optimistic that, given Governor Brownback’s commitment to this issue, Kansas will renew its pioneering initiatives to reduce both recidivism and costs in 2011.v
i Marc Levin, “What Conservatives Are Saying About Criminal Justice Reform,” Texas Public Policy Foundation, Jan. 2010, http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2010-01-PP02-conservativesaresaying-ml.pdf.
ii Steve Yoder, “Crime and the Governors,” The Crime Report, 27 Oct. 2010, http://thecrimereport.org/2010/10/27/crime-and-the-governors/[iii] Ibid.
Marc Levin on NPR’s On Point radio show
Policy Director Marc Levin appeared on NPR’s On Point radio show to discuss the costs of prisons. Here is the link. Right on Crime supports applying the principles of limited government to the criminal justice system. We believe that the system should preserve public safety, provide justice, reduce crime and lessen costs.:: Read More
Salina, Kansas Experiments with Restorative Justice
Certain juveniles in Salina, Kansas, will now have an opportunity to restore their communities and their victims after they run afoul of the law.:: Read More
Encouraging New CSG Report on Declining Recidivism in 7 States
This morning, the Council of State Governments Justice Center released an encouraging new report on declining recidivism rates. The report examined the 2005 and 2007 recidivism rates in seven states: Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont.:: Read More
New Ministry of Justice Report Cites Kansas Justice Reinvestment as a Model
The Ministry of Justice of The United Kingdom recently released a comprehensive report/proposal on effective punishment, rehabilitation, and sentencing to provide solutions to the revolving prison door that plagues Britain.:: Read More
Kansas Forms New Partnership To Take On Recidivism
Kansas spends over $300 million per year on the incarceration of some 15,000 inmates in county and state prisons, and it boasts a recidivism rate of around 43% (on par with the national average). According to Right On Crime supporter Pat Nolan, Governor Sam Brownback has decided that…:: Read More
Kansas Abolishes its Parole Board
Earlier this year, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed an executive order to abolish the state’s Parole Board and transfer its duties to the Department of Corrections. The Legislature had sixty days to reject the order, but in March, the Senate defeated an attempt to block Governor Brownback’s plan. Brownback has argued…:: Read More
Sam Brownback Prepares to Take the Reins in Kansas
On January 8, 2011, Sam Brownback will be sworn in as the 46th governor of Kansas. On criminal justice reform, Governor-elect Brownback is one of the nation’s most thoughtful voices. In many respects, he emerged as the star of a…:: Read More
View More from Kansas »