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Archive for Saturday, April 26, 2003

Drug-use treatment programs gain funding

April 26, 2003

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— Two legislative committees endorsed separate proposals Friday to fully finance new drug treatment programs, responding to a freshly enacted law mandating such programs rather than prison for some criminals.

Working on separate bills designed to clean up issues surrounding the state's $10 billion budget, the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees each approved $6.4 million for the new programs.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who signed the drug sentencing bill into law Monday, proposed only $1.3 million in spending, enough only to develop the new programs. However, her request contemplated she would find other funds to follow through, despite the state's tough financial times.

But her administration's promise was not good enough for some lawmakers, and some did not like her decision to take the $1.3 million from the cash reserves built by community corrections programs.

The new drug sentencing law will apply mostly to offenders who now go to prison for drug possession, especially if they have no prior record or history of violence.

Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, said the bill Sebelius signed included sentencing provisions that would not take effect unless the state provided enough money to pay for treatment programs.

That provision was necessary, he said, because without it, it would "essentially decriminalize the possession of drugs."

Supporters of the bill, like Adkins, argued that enacting it eventually would decrease the state's costs because it would divert nonviolent offenders from prison and decrease the need for prison space.

But critics suggested the measure represented getting soft on crime.

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