Friday, May 24, 2013
The Kansas Department of Corrections would have to limit parole supervision to only the highest-risk offenders under a proposed state budget agreement, the department's secretary said in a memo this week.
Secretary of Corrections Ray Roberts said the potential budget agreement reached earlier in the week by House and Senate negotiators would force him to make $12.5 million in budget reductions during the upcoming fiscal year.
"The cuts are dramatic," Corrections Department spokesman Jeremy Barclay said.
In addition to limiting parole services, Roberts' memo said the department would have to close the Stockton Correctional Facility and cut other community services. Those cuts, the memo said, will result in the layoff of county and state direct-service public safety employees.
Programs like drug recovery and therapy for sex offenders would also be cut.
"And then they would be unsupervised as they come out in the community," Barclay said. "So you have a double-whammy effect on lack of public safety."
The possibility of such drastic cuts from the corrections budget is creating concerns in the law enforcement community.
"We'd have some grave concerns if we have people out there that aren't being watched," Sgt. Kevin Bradford of the Missing and Exploited Child Unit said. "Not making sure they get to appointments they're supposed to get to; not getting through therapy they're supposed to get to go through."
Bradford said, despite cuts, people who work in public safety still find a way to get the job done with the budget they're given.
"They concern is, at what point are we going to get so used to the minimal amount of service, they keep taking it away," he said. "And then it gets to the point where the community itself is in an endangered situation."
Barclay said this budget proposal runs counter to what Gov. Sam Brownback wanted for public safety. He included $2 million in additional funding for community based treatment programs in his budget proposal.
"The Governor's been very supportive of public safety throughout his time and this takes a giant leap back to where we were a decade ago," Barclay said.
The legislative budget proposal still faces House and Senate votes. However, due to procedural rules, lawmakers can only vote for or against the entire package. They will be unable to remove any items they would like deleted from the budget.