Archive for Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Corrections merger upsets state

May 1, 2001


Douglas County officials are negotiating with the state, trying to work out kinks in a department merger.

The Kansas Department of Corrections doesn't like the way the county is paying for the administrator who oversees the merged district court services and community corrections, County Administrator Craig Weinaug told county commissioners Monday.

Ron Stegall, the county's chief executive probation officer, said he spends time in each department and often does work for both at the same time.

The state funds community corrections while court services receives some money from the state Office of Judicial Administration. The county is using both sources to fund the merged department.

"We think this is appropriate because this was a merger forced by state cuts," Commissioner Charles Jones said.

The January merger was prompted by shrinking state aid for community corrections. Last year, the state cut $55,000 from the department's 2001 budget; more cuts are expected.

Stegall said he expects to receive less money next year because community corrections' average daily population has decreased since the Legislature lowered probation time for certain offenders. Last year, he said, the department served 116 people. Now it serves about 85.

"If we're reduced by another 30 percent, it will be very difficult, but we're not sure yet what will happen," he said. "Those people that need a higher level of supervision won't get it from court services."

Stegall said he was concerned about public safety because offenders would not receive the amount of supervision necessary.

Commissioners Monday also signed a comprehensive plan, which outlines the 2002 goals for community corrections.

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