KS Looks At Improving Probation-Parole Supervision to Avoid More Prisons


The prison doors keep revolving and the taxpayers of Kansas keep paying. A growing prison population fueled by people on probation and parole being returned to incarceration is forecast to outstrip the number of available beds within a few years, reports the Kansas City Star. If left unchecked, officials say, the trend will prompt a pair of equally unpalatable options: Build new prisons at enormous cost or allow the courts to release inmates early to avoid overcrowding. Rather than wait, state officials hope a proposed law can reverse that trend and save millions of dollars while also reducing crime. It focuses on strategies to supervise and assist probationers and parolees better in their communities to keep them out of trouble and out of prison. Some law enforcement officials, however, think parts of the bill afford probation violators too many chances at the expense of public safety. “How many cracks at probation do you get?” asked Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. Though the number of prison admissions for new crimes has been going down, the number of admissions for probation and parole violations has increased 25 percent since 2009. The proposal would provide judges and probation officers with more options to punish technical violations short of long-term imprisonment. “Right now we have a one-size-fits-all answer,” said state Rep. John Rubin, chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. “We send them right back to the slammer.”

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