State Releases Plans to Improve Juvenile Justice System, Promote Public Safety and Reduce Costs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Adam Pfannenstiel, KDOC Communications Director
December 10, 2015
State Releases Plans to Improve Juvenile Justice System, Promote Public Safety, and Reduce Costs
Topeka, KS –– The Kansas Juvenile Justice Workgroup today submitted to state leaders a comprehensive set of data-driven policy recommendations designed to increase public safety, effectively hold juvenile offenders accountable and reduce juvenile justice costs. The Workgroup’s recommendations will be used as the foundation for statutory, budgetary, and administrative changes during the 2016 session of the legislature.
In keeping with its charge from state leaders, the Workgroup issued 40 consensus-based recommendations that if fully implemented are projected to reduce the average daily out-of-home population by at least 62 percent from projected levels in 2021, leaving millions available for reinvestment. Other highlights of the policy recommendations include:
- Preventing deeper juvenile justice system involvement of lower-level offenders through early response with targeted services and swift and appropriate sanctions;
- Protecting public safety and containing costs by focusing system resources on higher level youth; and
- Sustaining effective practices through continued oversight and reinvestment in a stronger continuum of evidence-based services.
While the juvenile arrest rate in Kansas dropped more than 50 percent from 2004 to 2013, the state’s community supervision and residential commitment populations have not fallen at the same rate. In particular, the out-of-home placement population did not mirror the drop in the juvenile arrest rate, declining by roughly half as much (24 percent). Kansas is currently ranked 9th highest nationally in out of home placements for juvenile justice involved youth.
Beginning in June 2015, the Workgroup conducted a comprehensive analysis of the juvenile justice system, reviewing key data from the Office of Judicial Administration (OJA), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and KDOC, and gathering input from those who work on the front lines through more than two dozen roundtable discussions with stakeholders, including law enforcement, crime victims, judges, county and district attorneys, and service providers. The Workgroup also reviewed current research on reducing recidivism as well as effective policies and practices from states across the country.
"These recommendations are an important step forward for juvenile justice in Kansas," said Governor Brownback. "Our priority is helping Kansas youth and their families. These steps mean less crime, lower costs for taxpayers and better outcomes for everyone involved."
Key findings of the Workgroup include:
- As crime falls, Kansas’s juvenile justice system does not keep pace. Instead of mirroring the reduction in crime, Kansas’s juvenile justice system is cycling youth through more out-of-home placements and holding them away from home longer than it did a decade ago.
- The vast majority of youth placed in state-funded residential facilities are lower-level offenders and have limited criminal histories.
- Bed costs are high. More than two-thirds (over $53 million) of KDOC’s juvenile services budget is spent on out-of-home placements at a cost of as much as $89,000 per year per youth. That is more than 10 times the cost of probation.
- Evidence-based interventions for juvenile offenders are scarce in communities.
“We charged the work group with studying the juvenile justice system to see if there were opportunities for better outcomes for our youth and our communities,” said Chief Justice Nuss. “I am encouraged by their recommendations and believe they should help us create a more efficient and effective juvenile justice system.”
“The recommendations in this report help provide the Legislature with a framework for achieving a brighter future for our state’s youth,” said Speaker Merrick. “With these recommendations we are better positioned to assist troubled juveniles to avoid a future of incarceration and instead become productive members of society.”
“The policies put forth by the Workgroup will help improve the juvenile justice system in Kansas,” said Senate President Susan Wagle. “Together we can create better policy that will result in having fewer youth in our juvenile system, and fewer coming into our adult corrections system as well.”
“I am encouraged that Kansas is focusing on its juvenile justice system,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley. “The Legislature now has an opportunity to work together to improve the lives of our youth, families, and communities.”
“Kansas needs a juvenile system that focuses on public safety and improving the outcomes of youth, said House Minority Leader Burroughs. “I look forward to working on them during the next legislative session.”
The Workgroup is co-chaired by Representative John Rubin and Senator Greg Smith, chairs of the House and Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committees. It also includes 15 additional members:
- Representative Gail Finney, District 84
- Senator Pat Pettey, District 6
- Judge Thomas Foster, 10th Judicial District
- Judge Mary Thrower, 28th Judicial District
- Judge Delia M. York, 29th Judicial District
- Mark Gleeson, Office of Judicial Administration
- Stephanie Springer, 27th Judicial District Chief Court Services Officer
- Ray Roberts, Secretary, Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC)
- Terri Williams, Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Services, KDOC
- Randy Bowman, Director of Community Based Services, KDOC
- Melody Pappan, Cowley County Youth Services Administrator
- Jaime Rogers, Deputy Secretary, Kansas Department for Children and Families
- Trent Wetta, Kansas Legal Services
- Karen Griffiths, Assistant County Attorney, Norton County
- Ed Klumpp, Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police
The state received technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project throughout the Workgroup process.