Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly wants to create a treatment center for inmates with substance abuse problems in the state’s largest prison, the Kansas City Star reports. The proposal mirrors a recommendation by the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission that the state repurpose space in an existing prison to create a 240-bed substance abuse treatment center for offenders. Kelly plans to recommend the addition of a treatment center at Lansing Correctional Facility, which houses more than 2,400 people. This spring, the Kansas Department of Corrections moved the inmates in its Lansing prison to new buildings on the prison’s campus.
Russ Jennings, chairman of the Kansas House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, said a treatment center would be important for rehabilitating inmates and ensuring they can successfully reenter society at the end of their sentences. “We lack adequate programming in our institutions right now and so many people who are committed to the facilities have substance abuse and/or mental health challenges,” he said. “Left unaddressed, we shouldn’t expect their behavior to change a lot when they get out.” Kelly said the proposal was part of ongoing criminal justice reforms from her administration. Though she acknowledged many efforts had been stalled by the coronavirus, she plans to move forward on recommendations from a commission on racial equity and justice. Kelly has advocated for sentencing reforms that would keep non-violent drug offenders out of prison.