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By CSG Justice Center

In May 2021, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed a package of bipartisan criminal justice legislation into law, which is designed to increase public safety and improve community supervision. Three additional bills were added to that package in April 2022.

The policy changes are the result of Kansas’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which the state embarked on in 2020 with intensive technical support from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.


COVID-19’s impact on Kansas’s justice system temporarily lowered rates of incarceration and kept more people on supervision or otherwise held in the community. But communities are not equipped to handle the increased population, let alone reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Key Challenges

Three key challenges were identified in Kansas:

  1. More Kansans are being incarcerated for drug offenses, which drives up costs without improving outcomes. 
  2. People who violate conditions of supervision make up a significant portion of those in prison. 
  3. Using prison to sanction Kansans who violate conditions of their supervision is costly. 

The Legislation

HB 2026 (enacted in May 2021) will expand existing drug treatment infrastructure to encourage more prosecutor diversions and provide certified treatment to more people before they are convicted of crimes.

HB 2077 (enacted in May 2021) extended the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission (KCJRC) until December 2021. The Commission worked on various initiatives related to community supervision, such as creating standardized terms and conditions of supervision.

HB 2121 (enacted in May 2021) requires the Kansas Department of Corrections to establish standards for parole behavior responses that follow evidence-based practices. This includes the use of incentives for compliant behavior and appropriate interventions for violations. This bill also explicitly defines what it means to abscond from supervision, which directly ties into a non-statutory administrative recommendation to develop an interagency re-engagement unit. This unit will target people who fail to report, are on absconder status, or are at risk of revocation to connect them to resources and successfully re-engage them in supervision.

HB 2361 (enacted in April 2022) requires the Kansas Supreme Court to adopt rules for the establishment and operation of specialty court programs within the state, creates a funding advisory committee for specialty courts, and allows for expungement after program completion.

Kansas is one of a few states that requires people convicted of drug offenses to add their name to a public online registry, which affects their ability to secure housing and employment. HB 2515, which passed as part of SB 366 and was enacted in April 2022, allows people to petition to be removed from the registry after five years if they have been rehabilitated.

Community supervision in Kansas is overseen by three supervision entities. This trifurcated system creates a dynamic where a person with multiple court cases can be on supervision with one, two, or all three supervision entities simultaneously. HB 2654, which passed as part of SB 408 and was enacted in April 2022, ensures that people on supervision are supervised by only one entity. This will promote success for people on supervision, eliminate duplicative services, prioritize supervision staff time for people most at risk of failure, and ensure a fiscally responsible use of taxpayer resources.

Learn more about Kansas’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative and the legislation.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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