Ninety-nine times over the last six years, Kansas legislators have increased criminal penalties, says the Kansas City Star. As more criminals are packed into overcrowded prisons, the state is struggling to balance the new costs of justice against needs such as education and social services. State prisons for men are more than 250 inmates over capacity. In a decade, they're projected to be short about 2,000 beds. Prisons for women also will exceed capacity in about seven years.
State officials are considering solutions that will release some prisoners sooner than planned or keep them out of prison in the first place, said Kansas Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts. The idea of mass releases is not on the table. Roberts has three broad options — or a mix of them — in mind: build more prisons, house prisoners in county jails, or cut recidivism by helping paroled prisoners. Each idea would cost millions of dollars, he said. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman said administrators need to find a way around the problem because police and prosecutors will continue to haul criminals before judges. “We would be opposed to any kind of early release determination by administrators after experts like police, prosecutors, and juries have determined what a sentence should be,” he said.