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Archive for Thursday, August 5, 2004

Two out of 100 Kansans were under state supervision last year

August 5, 2004

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About two of every 100 Kansas residents were incarcerated, on parole or on probation in 2003, giving the state one of the lowest supervision rates in the nation.

The rankings, in Bureau of Justice Statistics released last week, also show that changes in sentencing guidelines have put more Kansas residents behind bars and fewer on parole.

"It's a product of the sentencing structure," said Bill Miskell, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections. "It's a different way of doing business."

According to the report, 18,700 residents were on parole or probation and 15,700 were in prison or jail on Dec. 31, 2003.

The per-capita supervision rate ranks Kansas seventh-lowest in the nation. Only Maine, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Dakota, West Virginia and Utah have fewer residents per capita under state supervision.

Nationally, an average of just more than three people per 100 were under state or federal supervision.

Miskell said the number of people on parole in Kansas had dropped from 5,722 in 1993 to 4,514 at the end of June. At the same time, the state prison population has grown from 6,240 in 1993 to 9,181 in June.

He said the new sentencing structure, begun in 1993, put more emphasis on mandatory prison time and less emphasis on parole.

Under the previous system, a person sentenced to five to 10 years in prison could be eligible for parole after 2 1/2 years, he said. Now, the person would be sentenced to mandatory prison time with less time on parole.

"The people we are keeping in (prison) longer in Kansas are the people who are being sentenced for the more serious crimes and who have the more extensive criminal histories," Miskell said.

The change has meant Kansas employs fewer parole supervisors but more prison workers. However, he said, that prison increase has been lessened by adding bunks to existing prison space.

"The way we've kept up with the increase in population is to do a great deal of double-celling -- putting two bunks where there was only one," Miskell said.

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