Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jerry Wells hopes to scrutinize the juvenile justice system "from the top to the bottom" as head of a statewide task force on crime.
The William I. Koch Crime Commission recently selected Wells to lead the Task Group on the Juvenile Justice System. The commission plans to form nearly 20 different task groups to examine crime problems in Kansas.
Wells said he would recommend members for his task force in 10 to 20 days. The commission gives final approval to task force membership.
Wells' task force will have two years to evaluate the juvenile justice system and make recommendations to the commission.
"I'm delighted to take this on," Wells said. "This is a rare opportunity for a prosecutor -- to take two years to make a thorough study of what has become a serious problem and have the resources to do it properly.
"We plan to evaluate the system from the top to the bottom, keep the good and throw out the bad, and then make a recommendation to the commission."
Wells said more than 60 percent of Kansas juvenile crime occurs in five counties with considerable urban populations -- Sedgwick, Shawnee, Wyandotte, Johnson and Douglas. Wells said he wants to make sure those communities have representation on the task force.
"However, I certainly want to look at whatever problems need to be addressed in the rural areas as well," Wells said.
The Koch Crime Commission was created in February by executive order of Gov. Joan Finney. It is funded by the Kanza Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation with headquarters in Wichita.