The Kansas legislature last night passed a bill that lawmakers hope will relieve future prison overcrowding and reduce the need for 1,800 new prison beds projected in 10 years, the Kansas City Star reports. The measure would establish prison drug and alcohol treatment programs and send more offenders to community correction programs. Sen. John Vratil said the goal was to reduce recidivism rates by 20 percent. He predicted that the bill would reduce the projected number of prison beds by 292. The measure would also reduce the time some low-level, nonviolent inmates spend behind bars by increasing “good-time” credit from 15 percent to 20 percent of an inmate's sentence.
The Associated Press characterized the final bill as a $39.5 million prison expansion program that would provide 668 new beds, including a 240-bed drug-and-alcohol treatment center. Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz saw the treatment center as an opportunity to help rebuild programs decimated when the state experienced budget problems in 2002 and 2003. The bill was worked out with help from the Council of State Governments with funding from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance and Pew Charitable Trusts.