Juvenile Crime Reform Bills Aims To Save Lives And Money
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently signed a new juvenile crime reform bill to help transform the way low-level minor criminals are treated by the state’s criminal justice system. Reformers call the bill the crown jewel in this year’s legislative session, which could actually end up saving Kansas tens of millions of dollars over the next several years, money that could be reinvested in community programs.
What does the bill do?
The law, Senate Bill 367, aims to shift the focus from incarcerating young offenders to placing them in treatment programs to help reform and prepare them for life’s challenges. The bill had overwhelming support in the Kansas House and passed unanimously in the Senate.
The community-based treatment programs would have a special focus on drug and alcohol rehabilitation, an all-too-common symptom associated with juvenile crime. Experts assert that probation and rehabilitation is vastly more cost effective than spending up to $90,000 per year to keep kids locked up behind bars.
Furthermore, studies have shown incarceration does little to reform or reduce recidivism amongst juvenile offenders. Lawmakers seemed to agree with that assertion and praised the legislature’s ability to take difficult steps towards reform.
The law is expected to save the state $75 million over the next five years and produce a 60 percent decrease in statewide juvenile prison population. Senate Bill 367 will take effect in July 2017.
Juvenile crime programs in Kansas
The new law is expected to be a huge step forward for the criminal justice system as a whole in Kansas, hopefully ending the dangerous cycle of young offenders becoming career criminals. However, even with the implementation of this and existing probation programs for minors, there is no guarantee young offenders will be granted entry into the program.
Prosecutors and judges can still exercise certain levels of discretion when it comes to the severity of charges and types of sentences handed down to minors. Having an experienced Kansas juvenile crimes lawyer on one’s side can help the courts understand the defendant’s situation and convey to them the low level of risk posed to the community.
We Are Here To Help
If your child was charged with an offense as a juvenile, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about your case. As a former Johnson County prosecutor and Kansas Attorney General, Paul Morrison knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and what it takes to get results for his clients. Call us today at (913) 780-6666.