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October 11, 2010

"With more prisoners and no place to put them, Kansas faces hard choices"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy article from the Kansas City Star.   Here is how it starts:

A few years ago, Kansas had figured out how to control its prison population. It had solved the equation and become a national model.  No more.  Kansas is officially out of beds for male prisoners, with a population last week of 8,411 — above the system’s capacity of 8,259.

In 10 years, the state is projected to be nearly 2,000 beds short.  So Kansas corrections leaders have started talking seriously about two options: Either find millions of dollars to house more prisoners — at a time when the state is struggling to pay for schools and social services — or start letting them go.

Another option — crowding prisoners — would just lead to violence and lawsuits, prison officials say. Many states, including Mississippi, have already retreated from years of tough crime laws. Kansas experts are looking at the Mississippi solution of making nonviolent offenders eligible for parole after they have served 25 percent of their sentences.

Another possibility suggested by the Kansas Sentencing Commission is to increase “good time” credit for some inmates from 15 or 20 percent to up to 50 percent, meaning prisoners who stay out of trouble could be released after serving half of their sentences.

But early releases in either form would violate promises the state made to those who have suffered at the hands of criminals, said Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman. “I don’t know how we can do that to the victims of the state of Kansas,” he said.  Even nonviolent inmates such as drug addicts and burglars are mostly chronic criminals who will get out and cause trouble, he said, and the state is already failing to revoke parolees who should be put back in prison. “They entrusted a job to police, prosecutors and judges and now they’re saying we don’t care about the effort,” Gorman said.

Wyandotte County District Court Judge Ernest L. Johnson, chairman of the Sentencing Commission, agreed that early releases would be a step back from the state’s sentencing grid system meant to impose consistent and true prison time. “But what do you do when there isn’t enough money? You’ve got to change something,” he said.

October 11, 2010 at 06:42 PM | Permalink

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Comments

123D. No crowding in prisons.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 11, 2010 10:28:53 PM

might also want to stop giving out idiotic and rediculously long sentences for EVERY crime.

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 12, 2010 5:25:59 PM

I don’t think that is fair to distinguish between criminals, who is worse the sex offender or the violent criminal. I think that it is fair to distinguish between who is trying to improve their life and who frankly downright disregards the rules. If a prisoner is able to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner for at least half of their sentence then I think that they have shown that they have learned from their mistakes. Even in life on the outside, how often are all of us able to live 100% following the rules for 6months to 5 years? If an inmate can achieve half the sentence with no infarction then I support releasing them. I don’t want to continue to pay for the ones behaving themselves, but I want the people who have a clear disregard for the rules away from me and behind bars.

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