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June 8, 2018
ACLU brings novel lawsuit against Kansas DA for failing to disclose diversion options to defendants
Late last year, the ACLU of Kansas last year produced this report titled "Choosing Incarceration" lamenting that prosecutors in Kansas often sought incarceration over available diversion programs. Now, as details in this press release, the ACLU has taken its complaints to court:
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kansas filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a faith-based organization against a county prosecutor for failing to implement diversion programs in accordance with Kansas law and for pursuing the expensive and disproportionately harsh prosecution of individuals posing minimal community risks.
The lawsuit was filed today in the Kansas Supreme Court against Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle. At a time when Kansas prisons have swelled beyond capacity, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, Markle and Montgomery County drastically underutilize diversion compared to the national and state average, despite the fact that diversion programs that allow defendants to seek incarceration alternatives such as treatment, community service, or restitution have proven financial and social benefits.
“These programs are essential to establish a rehabilitative rather than punitive criminal justice system,” said Somil Trivedi, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice. “Ignoring the legal requirements to provide notice to defendants of the existence of these programs, and to not discuss these options with those who qualify, is against the law. We’re taking action in Kansas to send a message to prosecutors that it’s their obligation to uphold the law and serve their community, not just rack up as many convictions as they can.”
Markle’s failure to follow Kansas diversion law negatively impacted the work the Kansas Crossroads Foundation, a faith-based organization that provides drug rehabilitation and economic development services to Wilson and Montgomery County defendants convicted of drug offenses. Since many KCF clients were likely not given the opportunity to apply for diversion, KCF has had to divert critical resources away from rehabilitation programs to conduct jail counseling sessions and help defendants comply with the terms of their probation or parole....
Following efforts in New Orleans and Orange County, California, today’s lawsuit is the third the ACLU has filed against active district attorneys since October as a part of nationwide efforts to reform prosecutorial practices nationwide.
The complain in his matter is available at this link.
June 8, 2018 at 11:05 PM | Permalink