This month, a merger of Kansas’s juvenile justice system and adult correctional system goes into effect, with the state’s Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) officially being incorporated into the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC.)
The consolidation is the result of an executive order proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback at the start of the state’s 2013 Legislative session. The merger, which took effect July 1, is strictly administrative; juvenile populations, while now under supervision from the KDOC, will not be combined with any adult correctional populations.
“Moving JJA to KDOC will increase the emphasis on safety while continuing to provide programs proven to get our youth back on the right path,” Brownback is quoted in a KDOC press release.
Under the KDOC, the new division will be called “Juvenile Services,” incorporating all of the state’s juvenile corrections programs and facilities, with acting JJA Commissioner Terri Williams serving as the first Deputy Secretary of the new agency.
“Improvements have already been seen as we have shared resources and the expertise of our talented and dedicated juvenile services and KDOC staff members,” Williams said. “Those initiatives, coupled with our improved facility safety and security, will further enhance public safety and rehabilitative outcomes for the youth and families we serve.”
The KDOC estimates the state’s current juvenile population to be approximately 1,500 youths, with around 325 offenders placed at Kansas’s two state-level juvenile facilities. The JJA was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1997, and routinely drew criticism for mismanagement and a lack of sufficient programming.
“A consolidation will make both agencies stronger and better equipped to provide comprehensive corrections in the State of Kansas,” KDOC Secretary Ray Roberts stated. “It is imperative that basic safety practices are routinely employed in correctional environments while we maintain the distinct differences in program needs and management strategies and continue the rehabilitation of the juvenile population.”