Schmidt: Funding needed for reform

By

State News

January 2, 2020 - 10:01 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ top law enforcement official says boosting spending on services for the mentally ill and treating substance abuse is crucial to reforming the state’s criminal justice system.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt contends extra funding for such services, particularly in rural communities, will deal with underlying problems fueling many offenders’ crimes. He said without such services, local officials frequently face a bad choice of locking up someone who’d benefit more from treatment or leaving that person in the community to cause more harm.

But Schmidt, a Republican, believes bipartisan interest in such spending has grown among other state officials as the GOP-controlled Legislature prepares to open its next annual session Jan. 13. State prisons are full: The inmate population of nearly 10,000 is slightly more than the prison system’s stated capacity and is expected to grow by nearly 14% over the next 10 years.

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