Kansas was once a national leader in justice reinvestment. Now, our lawmakers face the challenge of recovering from years of neglect that resulted in sending incarcerated Kansans to private prisons outside of our state; this cannot be a permanent solution. Employees with the Kansas Department of Corrections must be given the resources they need to avoid staff working back-to-back shifts and optimize the safety of employees and inmates. Kansas should find opportunities to provide nonviolent drug offenders with treatment rather than incarceration and invest in alternatives that are more effective for rehabilitation than long prison sentences.
Our justice system is in distress, and I believe that we are imprisoning too many people. It is essential that we find solutions to overcrowding in prisons and restore criminal justice best practices. A report by the bipartisan Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission will be released in December 2020, and the legislature must urgently address sentencing reform at the beginning of the 2021 session.