Report outlines recommendations to increase public safety and save taxpayer dollars
The report lays out recommendations on how to strengthen Kansas’ criminal justice system, including provisions for bolstering probation supervision and making reentry from prison back into the community
safer and more successful. These recommendations were incorporated in House Bill 2170, introduced yesterday by the House Corrections Committee.
The report’s recommendations could help the state slow the growth of its prison population and avert more than $53 million in new spending over the next five years. Savings generated would enable Kansas to reinvest funds in community-based programming such as substance abuse treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy that will reduce the likelihood that people on felony probation will commit more crimes in the future.
The report is a product of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a data-driven analysis of the state’s criminal justice system led by the CSG Justice Center in partnership with the Pew Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The initiative was guided by a 17-member working group of state and local criminal justice stakeholders, established by House Bill 2684 in the 2012 legislative session.
Gov. Brownback was among the state leaders who requested that Kansas conduct a justice reinvestment analysis of its criminal justice system.
“This data-driven report provides opportunities for us to do better community supervision, which leads to less crime and fewer associated costs,” he told the forum’s panel members and legislators in attendance. “We can neither afford the tens of millions of dollars nor the impact on our communities if we ignore these common sense and evidence-based recommendations.”
“This report analyzes and discusses some of the core reasons for the current pressures being placed on Kansas’ correctional system and outlines practices to continue our focus on enhancing the public safety of all Kansans,” added Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts. “It gives us alternatives to building new prisons by focusing on the root causes of people returning to prison through providing fundamentally needed programming such as drug and alcohol treatment in the community to those who we know are most likely to reoffend.”
Former Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele was among the panelists. Under his leadership on this issue, Oklahoma joined the company of more than a dozen other states— including North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas,—that have successfully used the Justice Reinvestment Initiative to improve public safety by reallocating resources to reduce recidivism and contain costs.
“Just like Kansas, my state crafted a plan based on facts, data, and analysis specific to our state—not a one-size-fits-all template,” Steele said. “We needed a plan that was smarter and tougher on crime, increased public safety and helped control corrections costs. Whether it’s more proactive policing or swift and certain sanctions, Justice Reinvestment has helped us to create a more sophisticated system for prioritizing our criminal justice efforts at the state and local levels.”
“We know so much more today than we did three decades ago about how to break the cycle of reoffending,” said Adam Gelb, director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project. “With this package of reforms, policymakers in Kansas are showing that if states are serious about public safety, they need to strengthen the policies and programs that research shows actually work to stop the revolving door.”
“This data-driven, justice reinvestment approach allows a state to utilize the most up-to-date strategies in criminal justice while using existing funding and resources. That is a critical element in any bipartisan effort of this scale,” said Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the U.S. Department of Justice.
The full report can be accessed by visiting the CSG Justice Center webpage at www.justicereinvestment.org.
The CSG Justice Center’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative to address corrections spending and public safety is a partnership with the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Center on the States, with additional support to CSG from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. These efforts have provided similar data-driven analyses and policy options to state leaders in 16 other states.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. The Justice Center provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.