A need for criminal justice reform



August 23, 2019 - 3:35 PM

As policymakers manage the daily reality of Kansas’s prison crisis, let’s understand the core issue and its implications. Kansas has a growing prison population, but lags other states on criminal justice reforms that could curb that growth, ease managing prisons, and reduce budget strain from prisons.

Kansas state prisons have about 10,000 inmates. Per Kansas Sentencing Commission numbers, that population grew 16 percent in the last decade. However, per Census estimates, the Kansas population only grew 2 percent in that time, so we are growing our prison population much faster than our state is growing.

As the Prison Policy Initiative reports, Kansas is at about the national average for prisoners per 100,000 people. Like the nation, Kansas imprisons more people per 100,000 than any Western country. Kansas also has higher imprisonment rates than authoritarian regimes like Iran, Cuba, Russia, and China.

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