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Commission OKs Community Corrections staff increase
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It is much cheaper for an offender to be to be supervised than it is to throw them in jail. For that reason and due to increasing demands for its services, the short-handed Central Kansas Community Corrections requested the addition of an extra supervisor.
A divided Barton County Commission Monday morning, Jan. 5, granted that request. It approved the hiring of another intensive supervision officer for CKCC.
“We are making a positive change,” said CKCC Director Amy Boxberger. Her office covers the Barton County-based 20th Judicial District in preventing 77 percent of those it serves from avoiding jail, exceeding state expectations of 75 percent.
They had been working with about 200 parolees per month, but that is increasing. Last month, they had 230 offenders.
On Aug. 25, the commission adopted the 2015 authorized positions listing. This included all county positions, including CKCC and 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services, since both fall under the county’s jurisdiction.
In that listing, CKCC was slated for seven full-time and five part-time positions. However, Boxberger asked the positions be revised to eight full-time and five part-time. The new person will start at $17.86 per hour.
Boxberger said the CKCC budget can absorb this additional expense by tapping CKCC’s $93,000 in carry-over funds. The post can be sustained for two years without having to dip into state money.
The 20th Judicial District covers Barton, Stafford, Rice, Ellsworth and Russell counties. The new supervisor would work in one or two of those.
But, the request met with resistance from Commission Homer Kruckenberg. He cited comments made by billionaire and Koch Industries leader Charles Koch who wants reforms to the criminal justice system.
“There are too many laws and too many sentences,” Kruckenberg said, referencing Koch. By adding a new person “we are adding to this bureaucracy.”
Also, “I can’t see hiring anyone when the state is in (financial) trouble,” he said.
Besides, he thinks the hourly rate being offered is too high. “I don’t think we need to add an positions at 18 bucks an hour.”
Boxberger stressed that, in the long run, it is cheaper to supervise an offender than it is to send them to prison. And, the success of the CKCC program proves this.
“We are trying to keep people out of prison,” Boxberger said. “We are trying to keep our community safe.”
Other commissioners agreed with Boxberger. “It is much less expensive and much more productive to keep an individual as a functional member of society,” said Commissioner Ken Lebbin.
It was noted that it costs about $25,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate.
None the less, despite Boxberger’s case, Kruckenberg still wouldn’t support the staffing change.
The action passed 4-1 with Kruckenberg providing the only nay vote.