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Opinion

Opinion

Prison trends

The population of Kansas prisons is low compared to many states, but it still is going in the wrong direction.

December 23, 2010

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The good news that the prison rate in Kansas is far lower than the national average is tempered by the fact that the number of people in Kansas prisons is continuing to grow.

A report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicated that the prison population in Kansas rose from 8,534 at the end of 2008 to 8,641 by the end of 2009. Since 2000, the report said, the number of people in Kansas prisons has risen by 3.5 percent. That seems pretty good compared to a national growth rate of 15 percent, but it’s still a costly increase for the state.

Unfortunately, the upward trend is continuing. Reports on the Kansas Department of Corrections website indicate that at the end of November 2010, the state’s total prison population stood at 8,966.

Commenting on the national report, the communications director for KDOC noted that the department had been focusing on controlling prison populations by reducing the number of parolees who return to prison. Without those efforts, he said, “the numbers would’ve been much higher.”

Indeed, the efforts instituted under Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz to reduce parolees’ return to prison were highly successful and drew national attention. Unfortunately, funding for almost all of those programs has been eliminated by recent budget cuts.

Werholtz was one of several appointed officials who left office earlier this month in preparation for the transition to a new administration. Gov.-elect Sam Brownback has not yet named his secretary of corrections, but we hope Werholtz’s successor will be able to renew some of the state’s successful efforts to reduce prison populations and perhaps stave off the state’s need to consider building expensive new prison facilities.

Comments

mutualrespect37 3 years, 3 months ago

A moving plea by NPR commentator to stop using prisons and jails as holding pens for the mentally ill: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/24/132288485/a-holiday-wish-for-the-mentally-ill

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Success 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe we should take the approach that Arizona has and see if we can pass some laws that help the prison industry increase it's market: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130833741

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smitty 3 years, 3 months ago

Here's how to fix a major part of the prison over load...

**A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.

Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.

They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

The tiny amount of marijuana police found while searching Touray Cornell’s home on April 23 became a huge issue for some members of the jury panel.

No, they said, one after the other. No way would they convict somebody for having a 16th of an ounce.

In fact, one juror wondered why the county was wasting time and money prosecuting the case at all, said a flummoxed Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.

District Judge Dusty Deschamps took a quick poll as to who might agree. Of the 27 potential jurors before him, maybe five raised their hands. A couple of others had already been excused because of their philosophical objections.**

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_d6b1aaca-edfc-527f-ad11-f1691fdc6e3b.html

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Bob Hechlor 3 years, 3 months ago

This is the problem with replacing people just because the party in office changes. We cannot have consistent governing of essential services. This is putting politics over professionalism. Professionals are scientists, trained in their area of service. When politicians call the shots, they don't know what they are doing and often they are serving some special interest group. No one is more guilty of this than Brownback, who has been serving the interests of big money corporations for many years now, due to the defect in Kansas voters. With politicians, they will lean or fall in the direction of small picture, which means profit for someone, where as trained professionals address the big picture. Big picture means everyone should end up offended to a small degree, at least until they come to see the greater good. That is why some people should not hold a job at the whim of a politician. The greater good gets lost.

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