TOPEKA — Juvenile justice reformers pleaded for reversal of a decision by Kansas lawmakers to divert $21 million earmarked for community intervention programs and recommended allocation of more funding to innovative grassroots organizations involved in projects to diminish incarceration of children.
“Bureaucratic roadblocks remain to fully implementing many important supports and services for young people in local communities,” said Mike Fonkert, of the nonprofit advocacy organization Kansas Appleseed. “We must highlight the voices and experiences of directly impacted people.”
Fonkert participated in an online forum Thursday amid the five-year anniversary of a Kansas law setting in motion a reform movement to identify and finance alternatives to young people being sent to prison. The idea of Senate Bill 367 was to slash the number of people incarcerated at the Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka — numbers have fallen about 50% — and do away with warehousing of young offenders at residential care facilities.