Archive for Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kansas prison system overcrowded and understaffed, says Department of Corrections secretary

September 20, 2011


— The state prison system is overcrowded and understaffed, Kansas Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said Tuesday.

Roberts told members of the House-Senate Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight that corrections staff were performing well under pressure.

“I don’t think things are in a crisis mode, but it’s tight,” he said.

Roberts said that budget cuts over the past few years have reduced staff and programs designed to prevent recidivism and to help inmates succeed once they get out of prison.

Meanwhile the Legislature continues to approve bills that increase prison sentences, which leads to a “stacking effect” in the system.

“We can build, we can contract, or we can look at early-release mechanisms,” Roberts said.

As of Sept. 1, the state had 9,236 inmates in a system with a capacity of 9,164. Some of the over-capacity inmates are being kept in the Cowley County jail through a contract with the county, Roberts said.

And in the current fiscal year, 95 positions in the Corrections Department were cut because of budget cuts enacted by the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback. Another 45 workers are taking advantage of an early-retirement incentive program.

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said he feared any more job reductions would jeopardize the safety of prison employees.

Roberts agreed, saying, “I wouldn’t go any further.”

Budget cuts have also reduced programs that allowed inmates to work on getting a GED or other educational opportunities.

One of the immediate problems is setting aside space for inmates with mental illnesses, which Roberts said is about 27 percent of the prison population.

“We need more mental health beds, no question about it,” he said.

Roberts said the department is putting together an “exhaustive plan” on managing prison space and discussing that with Brownback’s office.

Included in the various options under consideration, he said, was releasing inmates early who are at a low risk of re-offending, and keeping them under house arrest and monitoring them by electronic means.

No decision has been made yet on the house-arrest proposal, and Roberts said he would not jeopardize safety with any plan. “If I feel like we have safety situations, I will let someone know very quickly,” he said.

While the down economy has led to budget cuts, Roberts said it has also resulted in less turnover of prison guards, which means a more experienced work force.


Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

I have no problem with that. But very few folks are in prison for sale of marijuana. Even those who are caught selling marijuana are typically sentenced to probation or community corrections, unless it a huge amount or they have extensive criminal records.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Where could one find those demographics? I'd like to see the break down of Kansas' prison occupancy and the related crimes. Can you Google that for me?

poopdog 6 years, 6 months ago

True, very few offenders get sent to the joint solely for weed, but I would speculate that a large number of parole violators get rolled back for testing positive for cannabinoids. Of course, such brave, new policies would not be in the best interest of Law enforcement, lawyers, bail bondsmen, the DOC, and the drug treatment industry. Legalize It!

Stuart Evans 6 years, 6 months ago

i think it's the government that's made the most off of it.

Bob Forer 6 years, 6 months ago

But make it crime to sell outside the pharmaceutical system, and/or to children, with severe consequences.

kawrivercrow 6 years, 6 months ago

I see what you did there, too.

A recent article elsewhere touched on the massive epidemic of high-potency opiates and related pharmaceuticals that is causing more death than street drugs and traffic accidents.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Drug Deaths Exceed Traffic Deaths.

"Drug overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009, the latest year for which preliminary data are available, surpassing the toll of traffic accidents by 1,201. And the number is likely to rise as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepares to release its official statistics in December."

"Dr. Leonard Paulozzi, medical epidemiologist at the CDC's division of unintentional injury prevention, said prescription drugs were driving up the death toll."

CreatureComforts 6 years, 6 months ago

There are a LOT of drugs that should NOT be legal, even if tracked and taxed.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

And most of them you can buy at Walgreen's.

Liberty275 6 years, 6 months ago

How many people are caged for victimless crimes?

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

I googled "victimless crime in Kansas" and a cursory look didn't show any statistics. However, there were a number of articles about whether all the crimes considered victimless actually are. A number of quite interesting articles are listed.

doc1 6 years, 6 months ago

Victiimless crime in my opinion would be a woman shooting and killing her attacker after raping her.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

Have to disagree with you on this one, Larry. Certainly not all, and perhaps not the majority of prostitutes are there by choice and are often raped and battered. But then that's a whole other discussion.

Grant_Runyun 6 years, 6 months ago

Rape, battery, forced prostitution, etc are all crimes with victims. prostituion in and of itself is victimless. Also, if it were legalized and regualted, a vast majority of the problems you reference would be solved. Prostitutes get in to bad prediciments when they can't turn to the police for help like someone working a legal job would be able to.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

See Grant's response below--it's right on target. The problems you point to exist because of the black market. The same is true for drugs. Most problems associated with drugs are because of the black market. The sooner people stop buying the government's B.S., and realize the truth in these matters, the better. We're being lied to at every level of government in order to protect jobs and budgets. Less law equals more freedom. But, we can't have that now, can we? Moar lawz pleez! Moar police pleez! Moar prisons pleez! Less freedom pleez! I want my nanny state!

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Somebody smoking a doob in their living room alone with a bag of Fritos. Where's the victim?

BigAl 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe we could release all those people that were arrested for voter fraud.... oh wait.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 6 months ago

This was predictable when the State of Kansas cut their budget.

Brownback is probaby the dumbest Governor in America and the intellectual level of Kansas legislators in Topeka is probably one of the lowest.

These are not smart people and what does that say about people who vote for them.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

It's all about privatizing the prison system = more tax dollars than ever but that's okay so long as tax dollars are flowing in the bank accounts of private industry.

BTW white collar private industry is the most reliable source of fraud but also a reliable source for special interest campaign money.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

Merrill, what you said about privatization is exactly what I thought when I read this article so I decided to do some research.

"A task force convened by Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline and led by State Sen. Derek Schmidt is championing the case for private prisons in Kansas, or prisons for profit. This effort is being driven by the capacity of Kansas' prisons, which are near 100 percent. Their argument is that this is a solution to the prison problem in Kansas." excerpt from a LTE 1/2/2004

Isn't this the same Derek Schmidt who is now our attorney general?

I googled "How many private prisons in Kansas." Didn't find an answer and it's past my bedtime, but it looks like Kansas may be the leader in private prisons.

"Private prisons don't save money, but they create an obvious and counterproductive profit motive that leads to policies that increase the prison population. Private prisons need more prisoners." from The American Prospect, "Private Prisons: Still A Bad Idea." 5/19/2011.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

How many four-lane highways are there between Topeka and Lansing?

mloburgio 6 years, 6 months ago

The GOP's Shady Plan to Privatize Prisons

In the name of balanced budgets, Republican governors and legislators are pushing controversial plans to privatize prisons. April 28, 2011 | Last August, two prisoners escaped from an Arizona penitentiary and fled to New Mexico, where they ambushed a couple, shot them to death, and lit their bodies on fire inside a trailer.

These fugitives didn't escape from just any facility: They were housed in a privately run prison managed by the Utah-based Management Training Corporation. After the incident, a review by the Arizona Department of Corrections concluded that the prison had poorly trained staff and deficient equipment—including a faulty security system that emitted so many false alarms, the prison staff simply ignored it.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Please explain why there is a "sexual predator list" but there is no list of people who hit you over the head with a pipe and rob you. Frankly, I'd like to know if the person living next door to me has a propensity for robbing, or stabbing, or shooting, or fistacuffing, or pipe whipping, etc. Lists. We need more lists.....

Paul R Getto 6 years, 6 months ago

Privatizing prisons is another bad idea which will not save money, merely divert it to the buddies of those who promote it in the legislature. This has been tried in the military as well, with similar results. The alleged 'savings' rarely materialize and the end result is usually more taxpayer money spent for poorer service. We should think about why we have the highest prison percentage per population in the world and ask what works to help people straighten out and learn their lessons.========= "Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations."

kernal 6 years, 6 months ago

We could do what IL did this summer. Instead of using the industry standard of basing capacity on the number of cells, base it on how many beds you can squeeze into a facility.
Wonder how long before that blows up in Gov. Quinn's face.

Practicality 6 years, 6 months ago

Here are the actual FACTS concerning the Kansas Offender Incarcerated Population. Drug Offense convictions make up 18.8%, or 1,667 inmates, of the Kansas Department of Corrections Incarcerated Population in 2010. 2010 is the most recent year they have records because 2011 hasn’t been published yet but it is unlikely to be that different. Maybe all you “Prisons are overcrowded because Marijuana is criminalized” people will learn something, but I seriously doubt it.

Of those 1,667 inmates in 2010, their convictions are broken down by which Kansas Statute they violated.


Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Break it down on a gender basis and you'll find about 1 in 6 males are there for drugs (seems low to me), and 1 in 3 females are in prison for drugs.

Next assignment: How many are imprison because drugs are illegal? Not because of selling or using drugs, but, you know, because its a black market issue... Someone gets their stash stolen, they can't go to the police for justice...they have to get justice on their own, i.e. drive-by shooting, murder, and what have you. If drugs were legal then these types of crimes would go away as well.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

I almost forgot to mention: i like cucumbers.

Practicality 6 years, 6 months ago

You are correct that for men, the ratio is about 1:6. I realize that you think that number is low (some still think that it is high) but that is why I put the information out there. Many people want to claim that American Prisons are filled with petty drug users. It simply just isn’t the case. True enough, 1,600 inmates is a high number, and the population would constitute about one prison in Kansas, but it does not constitute the majority.

As for your theory on drug dealer/user retribution, I do not think that is a statistic that ever could be verified, and I know that it happens. But, what I think is a more telling theory is the amount of property crimes that occur by drug users to get money for the drug. Why would you think that number would be any less if drugs were legalized? I would also like to point out that the mafia did not stop committing crimes simply because prohibition was lifted and we still have a high number of alcohol related crimes to this day. Simply repealing drug laws will likely not have the desired effect of reducing crime or prison populations, in my opinion, to the degree which is claimed by the legalization movement.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Please tell more about the mafia and alcohol crimes. Are there still fleets of boats running rum? I suspect there are a few hill billies with stills out in Arkansas. Oh yeah, and minors in possession.

Can we agree that legalizing drugs would reduce the male prisoner population by at least 1600 people. It's not filled with petty drug users, but the war on drugs claims many victims in many ways. I'm sure if you dug hard enough you'd find many more than 1600 are in prison because of black market blow back, i.e. turf wars and no access to 'justice'.

I say, let's try 40 years of legalization. It can't be any worse than the mess our failed war on drugs has created.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

What about the women's prison. 1 in 3 are there on drug charges...that's a high number. And that's not considering black market blow back convictions.

Practicality 6 years, 6 months ago

Here is the list for Drug Offenses by Statute with the corresponding number of incarcerated inmates in Parenthesis.

Offense Statute/Description (After Statutorial Recodification, Effective 7-1-2009) Total inmates incarcerated for each statute in parentheses.

21-36A03 Unlawful Manufacture or Attempt to Manu. Controlled Substance ( 4) 21-36A05 Sale/Dist./Cultivation Opiate, Opium, Narc. or Designated Stimulants ( 63) 21-36A06 Possession of Opiates,Opium, Narc.Drugs or Designated Stimulants (37) 21-36A09 Possession of Paraphernalia or Presursor with Intent to Manu., Grow (11) 21-36A10 Drug Paraphernalia; Delivery (2) 21-36A16 Drugs; Proceeds from Violation of Controlled Substance Act (1) Offense Statute/ Description (Under Sentencing Guidelines Act) 65-4127 BB Sale/Offer Depress., Stim., Halluc., Steroids (1) 65-4152 Poss. Of Equip.for Producing Contolled. Subs. (15) 65-4159 (1) Unlawful Manu. of Controlled Subs. (3rd Offense) ( 37) 65-4159 B1 Unlawful Manu. of Controlled Subs.(1st Offense) (167) 65-4159 B2 Unlawful Manu. of Controlled Subs.(2nd Offense) ( 6) 65-4159 D Unlawful Manu. of Cont. Subs. (1000 ft. School) (0) 65-4160 A Possession of Opiates, Opium, Narcotic Drugs (1st) (527) 65-4160 B Possession of Opiates, Opium, Narcotic Drugs (2nd) (22) 65-4160 C Possession of Opiates, Opium, Narcotic Drugs (3rd) (19) 65-4161 A Sale/Possess. Opiates, Narcotics (1st Offense) ( 298) 65-4161 B Sale/Possess. Opiates, Narcotics (2nd Offense) (41) 65-4161 C Sale/Possess. Opiates, Narcotics (3rd Offense) (22) 65-4161 D Sale/Possess. Opiates, Narcotics (1000 ft. School) (44) 65-4162 A Possession Depressants, Stimulants, Hallu. Drugs (96) 65-4163 A Sale/Possess. Depress., Stim., Hallu. (135) 65-4163 B Sale/Poss. Depress., Stim., Hallu. (1000 ft School) (18) 65-7006 Poss. Of Ephedrine, Pseudophedrine, or Phenyl. (77) [Statute Not Avail.] Other Drug Offense (Not Yet Categorized) (2) Offense Statute/Description (Prior to Sentencing Guidelines Act) 21-4214 Obtain. Prescription-only Drug by Fraudulent Means (1) 65-4127 A1 Involving Opiates, Opium, or Narcotics (16) 65-4127 BB Possession/Control of Depres./Stim./Halluc./Ster. (1) 65-4153 Simulating Controlled Subs. or Drug Paraphernalia (3) 65-4159 Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance (1)

Subtotal: Drug Offenses Male 1,464 Female 203 Total 1,667 Percent of Total Kansas Incarcerated: Male 17.7% Female 33.8% Total 18.8%

The two Statutes that usually contain Marijuana violations are 65-4162 and 65-4143 BUT are not limited to Marijuana only, so even if you pretend that all those two convictions have something to do with Marijuana you still only get a grand total of 231 people, out of a total prison population of over 9,000.

Statute 65-4160, which is by far the highest, is usually cocaine (including crack) and Meth

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Nice! Thanks for the good information. Got a link to that information, please. At least give us a hint on where to find this. Any idea how many convits have been reincarcerated because of failing a urine analysis while on probation? Looks like drugs laws and black markets keep the prison system flooded. Good thing for the Prison-Industrial System, bad thing for the rest of us.

Practicality 6 years, 6 months ago

The information comes from the Kansas Department of Corrections website.

Each year they publish many reports. The statistics I used were taken from this report, which is available on PDF. You will have to click on the approriate one to open it up.

Statistical Profile: FY 2010 Offender Population - This report provides a detailed statistical profile of adult offenders in the Kansas correctional system and describes the State's offender commitment and release trends.

The information concerning which statutes constitute which violation, Marijuana or Coke or Meth, is better understood by looking at Kansas Drug Attorney websites which put the statute into layman terms. Here are two if you want verification.

The information you asked about Parole Violations might be in this report, but could possibly be lumped into Parole violations. I did not look to see if they were broken up in a more detailed manner.

I do not agree with your assessment of "Drug Laws keeping the Prison System flooded" though. Roughly 19% of the Kansas Prison Population is incarcerated for a drug offense, that is true, but that means over 80%, the vast majority, are for other offenses. The report breaks down all offense groups if you are interested.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the links. Something to consider. State and federal prisoners -- Prison population in 1920: approx. 90,000 Prison population in 1940: approx. 150,000 Prison population in 1960: approx. 150,000 Prison population in 1970: approx. 150,000 War on Drugs begins in 1971 (nixon) Prison population in 1980: approx. 300,000 War on Drugs in bolstered (reagan) Prison population in 1990: approx. 600,000 Prison population in 2000: approx. 1.9 million Prison population in 2006: approx. 2.1 million

It's called the Prison-Industrial-Congressional Complex. And it's become a for-profit operation.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

You cannot confirm 'the vast majority' are not drug related unless and until you research parole drug use violations (urine analysis failure) and drug black market blow back, i.e. no access to justice system so violent retribution is the only answer.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Let's look at alcohol prohibition and it's affects on the justice system:

The didn't prohibit cigarettes, which are as addictive as heroin) and the number of people who smoke cigarettes has been dropping for decades.

No correlations there! LOL! Prohibition will always fail. We need to wake up and demand change from our supposed leaders -- who're all bought and paid for by big business.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey, I've got an idea. If there are too many people in prison, why don't we try making fewer things against the law?

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 6 months ago

Oh, that just makes too much sense here in Bizzaro World Amurikkka. Land of the Greed Home of the Slave.

true_patriot 6 years, 6 months ago

It's about consequences. If you gut government, including judicial system and prison management and programs like the GED program proven to reduce recidivism then your citizenry will pay the price in the end, both in terms of quality of life, safety and more money spent at the back end of a mess rather than proactively at the front end.

Consequences are not always immediate. All the damage being done now will be realized over and over again across a span of several years or a full generation.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

Too many of our laws and regulations are based on knee-jerk reactions, fear and ideology rather than research and facts, just like many of the comments on these boards. Then there are the unintended/unforeseen consequences which should cause us to reconsider, but often doesn't.

I tire of hearing "nanny state" thrown at every law that somebody doesn't like. A meaningless oversimplification. I also tire of hearing socialist hurled as an epithet. Capitalism and socialism are not mutually exclusive.

Our society consists of many more people than it did in the past and is much more complex. Unless we annihilate ourselves or vastly lower our population, it will continue to be so. We need to have open minds and forward thinking in dealing with our problems. We need to keep the programs/laws that work and change or discard those that don't. We need to get over our own egos and ideology.

As complexity grows, we do need more regulations. Generally laws/regulations are made because some entity has overstepped and infringed on the rights of others. Often there is disagreement about what those rights are. These are not simple problems and too many of us lack the knowledge to deal with them. Too many legislators on every level allow money to influence their actions.

  1. Better public education---and especially teach people to think logically

  2. Get the money out of politics

OK, I'm through with my sermon now.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

I take that back. I'm not through.

We also need to get more creative with how we handle people who break the law. Throwing them in prison punishes them and gets them off the street for awhile, but doesn't address the long-term problems.

One way is restitution/restoration. Of course, this only works in certain instances, but if a perpetrator has to face his victim and deal with the damage he/she has done and/or work to pay it off, it may help them to realize the consequences to other people of what they have done. I think there are a lot of ways we can deal with at least some of our lawbreakers that would be less expensive and more productive than throwing them in prison.

Alceste 6 years, 6 months ago

Alceste refuses to believe that Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts is acting in an indepedent manner.

Nope, Alceste believes Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts is serving his role as a mouth piece for Brownback and opening the door to privitization of the state's prisons. Wait and see. I'll wager a Taco Grande tacoburger on this matter.

verity 6 years, 6 months ago

I doubt that you get any takers. The odds are all in your favor.

KS 6 years, 6 months ago

Be like California, let the bums out to run the streets again.

Jimo 6 years, 6 months ago

Jesus might have cared for the criminals, those imprisoned, or oppressed. But Ayn Rand Anti-Christians do not .... and Kansas grows a bumper crop of those.

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