State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Kansas

In June 2015, Kansas established a bipartisan, interbranch working group to analyze the state’s juvenile justice system and recommend ways to improve outcomes for young offenders, protect public safety, and reduce costs for taxpayers. Although Kansas reduced its juvenile commitment rate by 38 percent from 1997 to 2011, the state lagged the rest of the nation, which saw a 48 percent decline during the same period. The working group will receive technical assistance from Pew as it evaluates data and develops policy reform proposals for consideration during Kansas’ 2016 legislative session. 

"The Justice Reinvestment approach will help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our criminal justice system, which will ultimately make our state an even safer place to live and work."Governor Sam Brownback (R)

The examination of the state’s juvenile justice system follows the passage of two laws to overhaul the state’s adult correctional policies through the justice reinvestment process. In 2013, Gov. Brownback signed H.B. 2170, which strengthened supervision agencies, prioritized resources for higher-risk individuals, and established progressive sanctions for repeat offenders. The measure is expected to avoid $56 million in projected prison operating costs and $25 million in construction costs between 2014 and 2018. At the same time, Kansas invested $2 million of the savings in community-based behavioral health treatment resources. The overhaul followed recommendations by another bipartisan, interbranch working group, which received technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

In 2007, Kansas lawmakers enacted sentencing and corrections reforms to curb the rapid growth of the state prison population, which was projected to increase 22 percent over 10 years and cost taxpayers nearly $500 million. The law invested millions in community and substance abuse services and created an incentive for offenders to complete educational, vocational, and treatment programs before their release.

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Darienne Gutierrez

Senior Associate, Communications