Central Kansas Community Corrections had a goal last year that no more than one in four of the cases it closed would be because the people under its supervision returned to prison. CKCC narrowly missed that goal, with 26% of those people committing new offences, Director Amy Boxberger told the Barton County Commission on Monday.
“The goal is 25% and we fell just short of that,” Boxberger said. Of the 168 case closures, there were 43 re-offenders, which amounts to 25.59%. The agency would have met its goal had the number been 42.
The Kansas Community Corrections Act provides grants to Kansas counties to develop and maintain a range of programs for adult offenders assigned to Community Corrections agencies. A grant application in the form of a Comprehensive Plan was submitted that set the goals for FY2019. Boxberger said she didn’t know if missing the goal would affect CKCC funding, but it could.
“Our vision is ‘public safety through offender success,’” Boxberger said. “I do feel like our community has more recovery than it ever has.” She praised the efforts of local Oxford Houses and community groups that are dealing with poverty and social resilience.
Several factors may have contributed to the missed goal, she said. The agency’s daily average population continues to grow. Last year the agency opened 253 cases. Meanwhile, more people are staying in the program longer. In 2018 CKCC closed 180 cases and in 2019 the number dropped to 168.
There have been changes in legislation and local changes, including a change in district judges this year. District Judge Scott McPherson heard most of the criminal cases until he was replaced by District Judge Carey Hipp. McPherson sent more re-offenders back to prison in the first two quarters of FY 2019 than Hipp did in the second two quarters, Boxberger said.
To be fair, Boxberger said, reducing the number of offenders who return to prison is important. “Prisons are at 106% capacity,” she said. However, “a lot of our folks have been successful.”
Barton County is the administrative county for the 20th Judicial District, to which the plan pertains. Therefore it is the responsibility of the commission to approve the grant application.
Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said it would be unfortunate if the state does cut funding to CKCC, which could result in a reduction in staff or programs.
“Cutting your program does not make it more successful,” Schartz said. “I wish the State would understand that.” While Schartz said she does not believe that throwing more money at something will necessarily make it better, it is more cost-effective to help people stay out of prison. “You can’t do more with less; you can only do less with less.”
Meeting at a glace
Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Barton County Commission meeting:
• After approving the “accounts payable register” for Sept. 16-30, the commission approved 10 requests from the County Clerk’s Office for added/abated/escaped/refunded taxes. All were for personal property and resulted in a $36,316 change in value.
• Amy Boxberer from Central Kansas Community Corrections gave a report, which the commission approved, on the goals set for Fiscal Year 2019.
• An adjustment was made to the contract for biennial bridge inspection. The commission approved an addition of $911 to the final billing.
• Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz was approved as the voting delegate to the Kansas Legislative Policy Group.