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