Proposed cuts to corrections system could endanger Kansans, secretary says

? The head of the state prison system said Friday that proposed budget cuts being considered by the Legislature could jeopardize the safety of Kansans.

In a memo distributed to legislators, Kansas Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts says the cuts would force the closing of a prison in northwest Kansas and leave without supervision some low- and medium-risk offenders, including sex offenders, who are on parole.

There also could be cuts in programs for mental illness and substance abuse, he said.

“The end result is that we will be spending far more than we save with the potential for increased victimization of Kansans due to an increased rate of untreated, unsupervised offenders in our communities,” Roberts said.

Republican House and Senate budget negotiators agreed earlier this week to a proposed state budget that would cut $12.5 million from public safety operations in the fiscal year that starts July 1, Roberts said.

But the budget bill has not been debated by either the full House and Senate, after legislators got bogged down on tax negotiations.

Roberts said if the cuts took effect, the agency would have to shut down the Stockton Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison that has a capacity of approximately 130 inmates.

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, criticized the proposed budget cut to corrections, in light of Republican proposals to add funds to hire permanent staff and promote golf tournaments.

“This is money we are just throwing away, and we are doing this at the same time that we are going to leave sex offenders unsupervised,” he said.