LARNED – To take advantage of economies of scale and make Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility and the state’s other juvenile correctional facilities safer, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has begun implementing an executive order moving the Juvenile Justice Authority within the Kansas Department of Corrections.
“We want to funnel more of our resources towards security and community-based care,” said KDOC spokesman Jeremy Barclay. “The bottom line is that we want to protect the youth in the system and our staff.”
Barclay said Executive Reorganization Order Number 42 is actually the final step of a merger that started a couple years ago. The two departments already share fiscal and research services.
“This has been a very gradual process,” he said.
Because of this slow transition, there should be few or no changes in staffing following the latest change. The more streamlined department will use the new-found efficiencies to reduce staff turnover by cutting overtime and raising salaries, and offer more training.
These changes will, in turn, make facilities safer, Barclay said. Personnel and scheduling will be more consistent.
“It is important that we strengthen our public safety system while continuing to provide programs to youth offenders to get them back on the right path,” Brownback said. “Combining JJA and KDOC will realize efficiencies through administrative consolidation, and will continue to provide for the unique needs of both populations.”
Brownback submitted the ERO to the Kansas Legislature in mid-January. Lawmakers then had 60 days to reject the merger. The 60-day deadline passed March 18. The order will allow KDOC to establish a deputy secretary of juvenile services. Acting JJA Commissioner Terri Williams will serve in that role.
There are approximately 1,500 juveniles currently under JJA custody. About 325 juvenile offenders are in one of the two JJA facilities, the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility or the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka. State law allows youth from ages 10 to 23 to be in JJA custody.
Work on this final phase began two months ago. The merger will go into effect on July 1.