Topeka — A northeast Kansas lawmaker thinks the state should consider housing adult inmates in a new juvenile detention facility before deciding to allow private prisons in the state.
Rep. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth, told the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee on Monday that the state could ease overcrowding in its prison system by transferring adult inmates to the 225-bed Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka.
But the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority, which is in charge of the $37 million facility, opposes Ruff's proposal.
"The simple fact of the matter is it was designed for juveniles, it was built for juveniles and it's needed for juveniles," KJJA spokeswoman Mary Beth Kidd said.
The facility was scheduled to open in July but would remain closed indefinitely under Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' proposed budget. Citing a drop-off in juvenile offender population projections and the need to save $11.8 million in annual operating costs, the governor said the $37 million facility would not open in fiscal year 2005, which begins in July.
Committee members took no action on the Senate-passed bill, which would allow private companies to build and operate prisons in Kansas after going through an extensive review process by state and local officials.