Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Corrections program faces fund woes

Shortfall for supervisors of released criminal offenders a potential ‘nightmare’ for community

June 20, 2007

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Three questions with ... Ron Stegall, director of Douglas County Community Corrections

Ron Stegall, director of Douglas County Community Corrections, on the problems inherent in a possible budget shortfall for the department.

Douglas County Corrections could face budget deficit

In a worse-case scenario, Douglas County Corrections would face a budget deficit of $130,000 just a year from now if the department doesn't receive more funding from the state. Enlarge video

A community corrections program faces a budget shortfall that could affect services for criminals, and the program's director may turn to the county for financial help for the first time.

Ron Stegall, who oversees Douglas County Community Corrections, said the program could face a budget deficit of more than $100,000 in the upcoming fiscal year. Such a deficit would lead to layoffs and nearly double case officers' workloads.

"That becomes not just a nightmare for us but, I would suggest, a nightmare for the community," Stegall said.

Stegall has about half a dozen employees who supervise serious criminal offenders who have been released into the community. The employees handle about 35 cases each.

"We are at a place where with the staff we have, we have a high caseload but we think we can still do a good job," Stegall said. "If we're looking at 50 cases, oh my goodness."

Convicted criminals assigned by a judge to community corrections experience a more intensive form of supervision than standard probation. Community corrections officers might see them as often as six times a month, compared with once a month for standard probation.

Community corrections offenders are considered to be higher risks than those in standard probation because they have been convicted of serious felony crimes, including aggravated battery and voluntary manslaughter as well as sex crimes. But they also have been determined by court services screening to be good candidates for completing the community corrections program.

Douglas County Community Corrections is funded by the Kansas Department of Corrections. It received $430,000 in state funding for this fiscal year - July 2006 to June 2007 - and it currently has an $80,000 deficit.

For the coming fiscal year, the program has received an allocation of $386,751, which is about $43,000 less than this year. The state reduced its funding allocation to Douglas County because the number of offenders being supervised by community corrections has not increased at the same rate as those in other counties, Stegall said.

"Our numbers didn't go down; we're at the highest number we've ever had," he said. "Last year our numbers stayed the same and statewide they went up."

Currently the county has 220 active cases in community corrections, Stegall said.

Stegall expects the coming year's budget shortfall to grow because of an increase in department costs, and pay and benefit increases. He expects the year to rack up another $79,000 deficit.

Stegall hopes to avoid such a deficit with additional funding and reimbursements from the Kansas Department of Corrections, plus a state grant.

"That's really a challenge and difficult to do," he said during a meeting this week with Douglas County commissioners.

If the deficit can't be covered, Stegall said he would have two choices: ask the county for funding - something he hasn't had to do during his seven years with the program - or make personnel cuts.

Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said the county would do what it could to help community corrections if necessary, but he said he doesn't know where the additional funds would come from.

"If there is any way to help him, we'll do it, but the bottom line is finding the money and being willing to spend the money when it is, in fact, the state's responsibility," Johnson said.

Comments

bd 8 years ago

two words------------chain gang

trinity 8 years ago

because the prisons are too full. and because of that stupid sentencing guideline thing.

it used to be, that the "serious criminal offenders" went to prison, do not pass go do not collect $200.00; however, since things have evolved in the direction that they have, now you're getting serious criminal offenders on the lowest intensity probation-court services-and the ones who used to go to prison are under community corrections intensive supervision. so, who is going to prison? from where i sit, looks as though hardly anybody but them building remain bursting at the seams full. SOMEBODY needs to wake the eff up&take a good look at this! and don't even get me started on the lower rung "crimes" that are receiving harsh terms-such as pot smokers, etc; and no i'm not talking about big dealers but repeat offenders etc. i'm telling ya, legalize pot and redirect the whole take on dealing with addicts&such; that would solve a whole lotta problems in this system.

monkeyhawk 8 years ago

This nightmare scenario scares the money right out of me.... I think I'll start a fund drive.

Charles L Bloss Jr 8 years ago

Let me take care of them, I'll make sure they don't get into any trouble. Of course, neither the criminal or the community corrections program may not like my methods. Thank you, Lynn

s26 8 years ago

I was struck by Commissioner Chairman Bob Johnson's comment, "if there is any way to help him, (Ron Stegall, who oversees DCCC)we'll do it, but the bottom line is finding the money and being willing to spend the money when in fact, it's the state's responsibility. As commissioner of Douglas county don't you feel it is also your responsibility to keep Douglas county residents safe? Sounds like a lame excuse to me.

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