Monday, April 5, 2010

Kansas Dismantles Model Re-Entry Programs

The Kansas method of preparing inmates for re-entering society was considered the crown jewel of correctional systems worldwide. According to the Kansas City Star, the Congress in 2008 established “Second Chance” grants to help other states create the kind of programs launched in Kansas — for drug rehabilitation, education, family reintegration and transitional housing.

The Star reported recidivism rates — the percent of ex-convicts committing new crimes — had, in 2007, plunged statewide to 2.2 percent, less than half the recidivism of the early part of the decade.

The number of parolees re-convicted for felonies fell 36 percent. The total prison population and new admissions also were on the decline, enabling the Department of Corrections to project no prison expansion for at least 10 years.

Two years ago, Kansas spent $12.6 million on its model re-entry programs. For the fiscal year beginning July, the corrections department will get about $5.3 million to fund those same programs. The huge cuts in funding will essentially gut the state's re-entry programs.

My Take

The governor and legislature are willing to dismantle model programs for the short term benefit of a balanced budget. The short-sighted decision to pull the plug on proven evidence-based practices will not save money. In fact, in the long run, Kansas' decision will cost taxpayers money.

Tax dollars are not the only thing on the line. Kansas' plan will produce more victims, make neighborhoods less safe, and prisons more crowded. More and more states are again following Kansas' lead, unfortunately its not new ideas and innovation, its slash and dismantle.

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1 comment:

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