prison overcrowding

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

A huge majority of Kansans say that the penalties for most nonviolent drug possession crimes should be reduced.

The ACLU poll shows that 86 percent of Kansans either strongly support, or somewhat support, reducing all nonviolent drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors as a way to reduce the prison population in the state.

Kansas prisons are at about 101 percent capacity, and six out of ten respondents say they would rather reduce the population rather than build new prisons.

Abigail Wilson

The Kansas Department of Corrections released its annual report this week. The report says the KDOC faced a number of ongoing challenges, including prison overcrowding an increasing number of offenders with behavioral health issues.

Neil Conway, flickr Creative Commons

State lawmakers are trying to reduce the state's prison population and costs, but parallel legislation to toughen penalties could stymie their efforts.

The Kansas Sentencing Commission has submitted bills to the Legislature that would free up 150 beds in state prisons and save $3.6 million dollars.

One measure would keep offenders out of prison on their first two marijuana possession convictions. Another would allow some prisoners to get out of jail earlier for good behavior.

Kansas' prisons are already over capacity and their populations are growing.

The Kansas Department of Corrections plans to add space for 640 inmates at the state's maximum-security prison outside El Dorado.

Director of Capital Improvements Michael Gaito discussed the department's plans Wednesday with the Kansas Legislature's Joint Committee on State Building Construction.

The department has two major projects planned at El Dorado, with a potential total cost of nearly $38 million dollars.

Gaito says projected increases in the state's inmate population are driving the plans.

Recent Changes Could Reduce Kansas Prison Population

Sep 12, 2013

Recent changes in the way convicted offenders are supervised after their release could help control Kansas' prison population.