Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law legislation that overhauls the juvenile justice system in Kansas. The changes will allow more low-risk juvenile offenders to stay out of detention centers and instead take part in community-based rehabilitation programs.

Brownback says this promotes the rehabilitation of youth instead of focusing on incarceration.

“Senate Bill 367 offers practical, sensible reform. This bill is about being smart on crime. It’s about making sure our communities are safe while juveniles are held accountable for their actions,” Brownback said.

Lawmakers Introduce New Juvenile Justice Reform Bill

Feb 2, 2016
Richard Ross

A new bill aimed at reforming juvenile justice has been introduced in the Kansas Statehouse. Advocates of the bill say it will keep low-risk youth offenders out of prison while saving the state money.

According to the advocacy group Kansans United for Youth Justice, 35 percent of young people locked up in the state are there for misdemeanors only, something that’s not done for adult offenders.

Richard Ross

Kansas currently ranks in the bottom 10 states when it comes to incarceration rates among juveniles. A growing number of people throughout Kansas want to see changes in how communities handle offenders under the age of 18.

A new organization out of Lawrence is traveling throughout Kansas to draw attention to this issue. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur spoke with Benet Magnuson, the leader of the organization.

A new report says Kansas' juvenile justice system functions inadequately due to poor use of mental health and substance evaluations, dependency on long periods of incarceration, inappropriate assignments of youths to detention facilities and other issues.

Richard Ross

There are about 70,000 young people in juvenile detention centers or correctional faculties in the United States. Richard Ross spent the past seven years documenting the lives of American juveniles who have been housed in these facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist, and, occasionally, harm them. The culmination of this work is a project titled Juvenile in Justice at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.

The preliminary results of a statewide assessment on the overrepresentation of minority youth in Kansas’ juvenile justice system will be presented at a community forum next week.

The forum is an event to solicit community input and present research findings from a study commissioned by the state of Kansas on disproportionate minority contact- or DMC.

DMC occurs when minority youth come into contact with the juvenile justice system at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

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A recent audit uncovered mismanagement and safety problems at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka. 

The Legislative Division of Post Audit compiled the report on the facility, which houses around 250 juveniles.

Auditor Scott Frank says this report was unique, because cameras at the facility aided the investigation.

He says the cameras allowed them to confirm assaults or other issues, and it can sometimes be difficult to confirm claims made during an audit investigation.