A New York based group called the Justice Equality Humane Dignity and Tolerance Foundation, or JEHT recently closed its doors after donors lost millions in the Madoff scandal. Now the Department of Corrections says some of its offender programs that were geared toward offender risk-reduction will be forced to slow down.
"I was stunned," says Secretary of Correction Roger Werholtz. "I mean, it's just not something you can anticipate. I found out by e-mail, It was very sudden."
Over four years, JEHT gave $4 million to KDOC.
"JEHT had a major influence in what happened in this state and it was an influence for the good," said Werholtz.
Grants from JEHT were used to train officials, including staff in Hutchinson, how to deal with offenders reentering society. The goal was to help those inmates, many high-risk, learn skills to successfully and safely remain in the community and not be reincarcerated. Programs producing positive results had a chance to be funded by lawmakers the following year.
"Because of what they did, this state is safer today than it was four or five years ago," said Werholtz.
Werholtz said, in addition to losing the JEHT funding, KDOC is also squaring off in the state's budget battle, standing to lose crucial resources. He said the next couple years will reveal which programs are most needed.
"We're going to lose a lot of community based services for offenders," Werholtz claims.
The department of corrections will have to slow some programs powered by JEHT, but Werholtz doesn't anticipate any layoffs because of the loss. He said KDOC will just have to push for fewer cuts from lawmakers.
"I'm hopeful that we can minimize the magnitude of that," said Werholtz.
KDOC was slated to receive another $700,000 from JEHT that it now won't receive. Werholtz said that money was not earmarked for any project yet, so he hopes that will help minimize the impact of losing the funding.