Police: Wichita strained by number of parolees, offenders
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say the concentration of registered offenders and parolees in the area is straining resources and posing risks to public safety.
The Wichita Eagle reports that Sedgwick County has the largest number of parolees and registered offenders in Kansas, with many coming from other counties or states.
The Kansas Department of Corrections released 1,269 people under parole supervision to Sedgwick County last fiscal year, which ended June 30. Just 360 parolees were released to Johnson County, which has a bigger population.
Sedgwick County had 2,819 people on the state’s offender registry for certain violent, sex or drug crimes last fall, according to Wichita police. It’s more than three times the number of registered offenders in Johnson County.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said he was surprised by how many offenders have convictions in other counties or states.
Part of the trend can be explained by Wichita being the state’s largest city, with many job opportunities and resources.
Wichita Deputy Police Chief Jose Salcido said sending more registered offenders to Wichita creates a “hyper-concentration” that results in increased crime.
“It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Salcido said.
Federal statistics show parolees are likely to commit a serious crime after being released from prison, Salcido said.
He said it’s costing the Police Department time and money, and putting strain on its homeless outreach team. The unit responds to 911 calls and calls for service involving homeless people, and allocates one-quarter of its resources to homeless parolees, Salcido said.
The department has also been working with state corrections officials to better track violent offenders and provide treatment and prevention, according to Salcido.
Democratic Rep. John Carmichael said Wichita gets a disproportionate number of parolees partly because it has the only work release facility in the state. Men can work jobs in the community as they finish their sentences, which Carmichael said results in many staying.
Some settle in the area because Wichita has mental health and drug treatment programs, he added.
He said the state could face heightened pressure to release more parolees to Wichita because the state’s prison population is growing and the prison system is understaffed.
Carmichael said the disproportionate number of parolees “imposes a burden on law enforcement and the citizens and taxpayers in Sedgwick County.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com