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Report sees progress after Kansas juvenile justice changes

December 26, 2019 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has been putting fewer juvenile offenders in its detention center and lessening their time on probation in the three years since it overhauled its juvenile justice system to handle offenders in their home communities, a new report said Thursday.

The oversight committee issuing the report recommended doubling the state’s annual spending on juvenile justice programs to nearly $22 million, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

State lawmakers overhauled juvenile justice in 2016 over criticism that youth were removed from their homes and sent to residential facilities or correctional institutions too often. Advocates pressed for programs to cut repeat offending and deal with troubled youth early.

The Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee reported progress in establishing statewide standards, prohibiting out-of-home placements for low-level youth offenders and directing resources to young people at the highest risk of committing new crimes.

The report said 24% fewer youth were placed in the state’s Juvenile Correctional Facility during the 2019 state budget year that ended June 30 than during fiscal 2015 — 179 instead of 237. It said no low-level offenders were housed there in fiscal 2019.

The report also said juveniles spent an average of 15.5 months under community corrections probation supervision in fiscal 2019, down from 20.2 months in fiscal 2015.