TOPEKA- In what could be the most significant Kansas public policy reform this year, the House agreed in an initial vote Friday to join the Senate in a major overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system.
Under the reforms, the focus of the juvenile system would shift to community-based educational, vocational and therapy programs for many young offenders and rely less on detention.
“This rightsizes our juvenile justice priorities,” said Rep. Blaine Finch, an Ottawa Republican. “It will help generations of Kansas kids to get out of the system, stay out of the system and live better lives.”
Reducing the reliance on detention and other out-of-home placements for juvenile offenders is expected over five years to save about $72 million, which would be reinvested in community-based programs. The out-of-home population over that time is expected to drop about 60 percent.