The Rundown with Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit

Juvenile Justice Reform: Examining the Effects of 2016 Senate Bill 367

January 29, 2020
The Rundown with Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit
Juvenile Justice Reform: Examining the Effects of 2016 Senate Bill 367
Chapters
The Rundown with Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit
Juvenile Justice Reform: Examining the Effects of 2016 Senate Bill 367
Jan 29, 2020
Legislative Post Audit

Senate Bill 367 reforms reduced out-of-home placements and increased community program funding for juvenile offenders in Kansas. Senate Bill 367 aimed to reduce the number of juvenile offenders put in out-of home settings like prisons, jails, and group homes. Out-of-home placements declined by 40% to 60% each year since the reforms were made. The reforms also aimed to create new community programs aimed to reduce recidivism. The Kansas Department of Corrections has spent about $9 million to create or expand community programs for juvenile offenders. Programs were generally available across the state, but more programs may still be needed. Department of Corrections did not have a process to ensure judicial districts used grant funds on appropriate programs. Stakeholders told us several Senate Bill 367 reforms had a negative impact on the juvenile justice system. These include the new probation, detention, and case time limits, as well as the graduated responses to probation violations. Stakeholders were more positive about the new youth assessment tool, but were split as to the effectiveness of other reforms. Kansas created a process to determine if Senate Bill 367 reforms were successful, but the process has not been used. In fact, only 2 of the 11 monitoring requirements we reviewed had been implemented.

Show Notes Transcript

Senate Bill 367 reforms reduced out-of-home placements and increased community program funding for juvenile offenders in Kansas. Senate Bill 367 aimed to reduce the number of juvenile offenders put in out-of home settings like prisons, jails, and group homes. Out-of-home placements declined by 40% to 60% each year since the reforms were made. The reforms also aimed to create new community programs aimed to reduce recidivism. The Kansas Department of Corrections has spent about $9 million to create or expand community programs for juvenile offenders. Programs were generally available across the state, but more programs may still be needed. Department of Corrections did not have a process to ensure judicial districts used grant funds on appropriate programs. Stakeholders told us several Senate Bill 367 reforms had a negative impact on the juvenile justice system. These include the new probation, detention, and case time limits, as well as the graduated responses to probation violations. Stakeholders were more positive about the new youth assessment tool, but were split as to the effectiveness of other reforms. Kansas created a process to determine if Senate Bill 367 reforms were successful, but the process has not been used. In fact, only 2 of the 11 monitoring requirements we reviewed had been implemented.

Speaker 1:
0:00
From the Kansas legislative division of post audit. This is the rundown your source for news and updates from LPA, including performance audits. Recently released to the Kansas legislature. I'm Andy Braganza.
Speaker 2:
0:17
In January, 2020 legislative post audit released a performance audit examining the effects of Senate bill three 67 passed in 2016 on community based services for juveniles stakeholders opinions on Senate bill three 67 reforms and whether Kansas has a process to determine whether these reforms have been successful. I'm with Matt Etzel, principal auditor at legislative post audit who supervised this audit. Welcome back to the rundown, Matt. Thanks for having me. First, tell me about the changes Senate bill three 67 made in 2016 and the reasons for these reforms.
Speaker 3:
0:55
So Senate bill three 67 was a pretty massive reform of the state's juvenile justice system, but at its core, I think really what it was trying to do, kind of two main things. One is to, uh, limit juvenile offenders exposure to out of home facilities and out of home placements. So what I mean by that is, um, limiting their exposure to things like, um, prisons. Uh, detention centers, uh, and group homes. So part of the goal of Senate bill three 67 was to try to keep those juveniles basically in homes. So, uh, maybe more so on what would be called an in home probation, uh, where they, uh, are still sentenced. Uh, but they're allowed to serve that sentence, uh, at home and, uh, supervised by the department of corrections or office of judicial administration, but they don't have to be put in and out of home placement.
Speaker 3:
1:48
And the, and the reason for that is that aligns with national research that shows, um, limiting juvenile's exposure to those out-of-home placements helps, uh, reduce the risk that they will re-offend in the future. So Senate bill three 67 did this or sought to do this in a number of different ways. So for example, uh, the reforms all but eliminated a group homes as a placement option for juvenile offenders. Um, so prior to three 67, juvenile offenders could get sentenced to a juvenile correctional facility, which is similar to a prison, uh, but they could also get sentenced to kind of an intermediate, uh, facility, which you can refer to as group homes. Um, Senate bill three, six, seven, all but eliminated those group homes as a placement option. Uh, and again then in theory, putting more of an emphasis on in home probation and keeping juvenile offenders, uh, in home.
Speaker 3:
2:45
The other thing that Senate bill three 67 really sought to do, uh, was to try to reinvest, uh, savings from fewer, uh, placements in those juvenile facilities into new community based. And those community based programs, uh, should be aimed at helping reduce juvenile offenders risk of re-offending and in the future. So they're going to be programs, um, related to, uh, behavioral and cognitive therapy, uh, sex offender treatment, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, but programs that, uh, should help, uh, reduce that risk of future recidivism. So those were the two main goals of Senate bill three 67 was help reduce out of home placements and help increase, uh, community funding for new community programs.
Speaker 2:
3:35
As the team got into field work. Uh, it looks like you found some of the data you needed to answer one of your audit questions was unavailable. Tell me about the missing data and how it affected your work.
Speaker 3:
3:47
Okay. So one of the things that we wanted to look at was again, how, how did Senate bill three 67 affect, uh, juvenile placement? So to do that, we had to review data from two state agencies because of the way that the state system is set up. Both the department of corrections and the office of judicial administration are responsible for overseeing different, uh, parts of the state's juvenile population. So we worked with, with both agencies to collect juvenile offender data. What we're able to tell using that data was that the States out of home placements, uh, had declined pretty significantly since Senate bill three 67 went into effect. So it's fiscal 2017 out of home placements had declined by about 40 to 60%. Uh, each year. What we also wanted to do though was to see, so out of home placements were declining. Where were those juvenile offenders going instead?
Speaker 3:
4:41
So we wanted to use KT, OCS and OJS data, uh, to be able to see, um, how simple three 67 was affecting in-home probation numbers, um, and also something called immediate intervention programs, which, um, can also be called IEP. Uh, but it's pretty similar to a diversion, but a little less severe and in a few different ways. But the state didn't have complete data on in-home probation or IP. Uh, so although we're able to show that out of home placements had declined significantly, it's the Senate bill three 67 went into effect. We couldn't say unnecessarily where those juvenile offenders, uh, were being placed in instead.
Speaker 2:
5:23
So Senate bill three 60 sevens reforms, um, allow the state to save some money by reducing the populations of, uh, the state's juvenile facilities, which KDOC is supposed to use to expand or create community programs. What does KDOC done with the savings? What types of programs, um, have they focused on and how widely available are these programs?
Speaker 3:
5:46
Yeah, so since fiscal year 2017, which is when a lot of these reforms would have gone into effect, the state has gathered about $40 million, mostly in savings from fewer placements in those juvenile of that 40 million, uh, Katie has spent about 9 million so far on new community based programs. And again, those are going to be programs to help try to reduce juvenile offenders risk to reoffend, uh, in the future. An example of this programs include family therapy, mental health services, mentoring services, um, those sorts of programs. The remaining $31 million in savings remains in a reinvestment fund that KDOC manages and KDOC plants three investigatively more moving forward. So beginning in fiscal year 2021, could you see plans to begin reinvesting about $22 million a year, over a 10 year period, uh, on even more community based programs for juvenile offenders, uh, getting, uh, services in the community on in-home probation.
Speaker 3:
6:52
Generally, those services, uh, were available across the state. But we did find that, uh, maybe some more programs are still needed. So KDOC tracks whether 10 key program types are available across the state. And in most cases, what we found when we reviewed, uh, data on those programs was that, uh, they generally work, they were available across the state. So for example, uh, of the 31 judicial districts in the state, 29 judicial districts, uh, offered at least seven of those 10 programs, which is, which is pretty good. Uh, and, and traditional districts aren't required to offer all 10 of those programs. So having a majority of those, um, is, is still pretty good. But what we did find though, is when we surveyed, uh, members of the community that help oversee those programs, uh, we found that although 61% so that there's adequate programming, uh, to serve juvenile offenders in their districts, uh, about 30% still said that there, there, there weren't adequate programs.
Speaker 3:
7:52
Uh, so even though, um, there are, they're generally available in judicial districts across the state. Uh, it might be the individual counties within those districts may still need, uh, additional access, uh, to those community based programs. So it looks like the team also had some other findings related to the first audit question. So for example, what found KDOC didn't have a process to ensure judicial districts used grant funds appropriately and some County and district attorneys were not following all the new requirements in Senate bill three 67. Walk me through some of these other findings. So the department of corrections can administer grants to individual judicial districts out of their reinvestment fund to help create, uh, local programs across the state to help fill their local needs. What we would've expected to see was that KDOC would've had a process to ensure that judicial districts use those grant funds appropriately.
Speaker 3:
8:52
Basically, they're spending it on the programs approved under the terms. Their grant can you see, did have a process, uh, to help ensure that traditional districts, uh, spent those funds, uh, and to review documentation on what those funds were spent on. Uh, but they didn't necessarily have a process to help ensure that, uh, those expenditures met the terms of the grant. So that for example, if they received a grant for a new mentoring service, uh, that those funds were actually spent on a new mentoring service. The second other finding that we had, uh, as part of this question, uh, was related to the immediate intervention program. And again, immediate intervention is, it is similar to diversion in that, uh, if a juvenile offender completes the IP successfully, uh, they will avoid a criminal record. It's a little bit different and that's a little bit less severe than a diversion, uh, in that, uh, juvenile offenders don't necessarily have to give up certain constitutional rights like they would under a diversion program.
Speaker 3:
9:55
Senate bill three 67 made offering an IEP mandatory across the state for all first time misdemeanor juvenile offenses. What we found was that not all district or County attorneys were complying with that new requirement that, uh, all first time misdemeanor offenses be offered a IEP. So as part of that work, we interviewed a 10 County or district officials, uh, to understand whether or not they were complying with these new regulations. What we found was that six of those 10 were not, so they were either not offering an IEP at all. So in some cases, they are still offering a diversion program instead of an IEP, uh, or they were only offering an IEP in certain situations. So for example, uh, they might not be offering an IEP if a crime committed was related to a sex offense. And the reason that was commonly cited from the district and County attorneys as to why they weren't necessarily complying with this requirement was a, they're citing a separation of powers, uh, citing a separation of legislative and judicial powers as the basis of their argument.
Speaker 3:
11:04
The second audit question focused on stakeholders opinions about Senate bill three 67 reforms. Tell me who you surveyed and what you ask them about. So we ended up serving 1,759 stakeholders across the state, and that included judges, sheriffs, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and members of regional, uh, juvenile question advisory boards. Uh, and we were serving them on their opinion on eight key reforms that were part of Senate bill three 67. Of those 1700 stakeholders that we surveyed about 400 respondents, we got about a 23% response rate, uh, but we asked them whether, uh, eight key reforms had a positive or a negative effect on the justice system. Those eight key reforms included probation, detention and case length limits, graduated responses for probation violations, uh, a youth level of service assessment tool at detention risk assessment tool, uh, the new mandatory immediate intervention program requirement and a multidisciplinary team requirement for the immediate intervention program.
Speaker 3:
12:19
What we ended up finding was that most stakeholders surveyed, uh, had a negative opinion on the new probation detention and caseload limits and they also had a negative opinion on the graduated responses for probation violations. So part of what Senate bill three 67 did was to create a new limits on the amount of time that juvenile offenders can basically stay in the juvenile system. Uh, so that's where those probation detention in case length limits come in. So for example, generally, I mean, depending on the crime and the risk of the juvenile, a juvenile offender, uh, now can't be on probation for longer than six to 12 months. What we found was that the majority of stakeholders that we surveyed, uh, felt like those new limits had a negative effect on the juvenile justice system. Um, so for example, if we go back to this probation limits, 59% of respondents felt like, uh, the probation limits had a negative effect on the juvenile justice system.
Speaker 3:
13:14
Conversely, only 14% felt like it had a positive effect on the juvenile justice system. Um, now it is worth noting that we didn't require respondents to select an answer to each of the eight different reforms. Uh, so the other 27%, uh, if you're keeping track there, um, did not respond or did not have an opinion, uh, related to those probation limits. The other reform that had an overwhelmingly negative response were graduated responses to probation violations. So under three 67, a juvenile offender on probation, they need to commit three technical violations before they can be put back in front of a court to see if additional punishment, uh, is justified. Uh, for example, whether or not that juvenile offender, um, needs to be sent to a detention center, we ended up finding was about 40% of respondents felt like those graduated responses, uh, to the probation violations had a negative effect, uh, on the juvenile justice system compared to 60%.
Speaker 3:
14:12
That felt like it had a positive effect. Did respondent to express more positive opinions about any of the Senate bill three 67 reforms? So one of the eight reforms that we asked about had a, had a majority positive response. So the youth level of service tool, uh, which was newly implemented under Senate bill three 67, uh, this tool is used to help assess a juvenile offenders, uh, risks to re-offend. And it also helps to, uh, determine what types of services and programs they might need in the community. So 30% of our respondents said that that tool had a positive effect on the juvenile system, uh, compared to 20%. That felt like it had a negative effect. But again, because response, we're required to respond to each one of our, uh, reforms. The other 50% then didn't select it was having a positive or negative effect.
Speaker 3:
15:05
And then the remaining through forms that we asked about, um, which were related to a new detention risk tool and those mandatory [inaudible], uh, respondents were generally split between those. So there wasn't overwhelmingly a positive or negative opinion on those remaining three reforms. So for the third question that the team answered, um, it looks like you found the state had not yet implemented most of the monitoring processes required by Senate bill three 67. Why not? One of the biggest reasons why the state hadn't implemented those monetary requirements is it goes back to that lack of a complete data set of juvenile offenders. So for example, some of these requirements are related to reviewing program outcomes and recidivism, um, studying and analyzing gaps, the juvenile justice system. So a lot of these monitoring requirements are going to first require that complete dataset. And as we mentioned before, that is an issue that I ran into that the state kind of lacks that, that comprehensive data set of juvenile offenders.
Speaker 3:
16:05
Finally, what is the main takeaway of this report? I think the main takeaway is that Kansas has reforms on this juvenile justice system has reduced the number of juvenile offenders in out-of-home placements like prisons and detention centers and group homes. And it has resulted in the state investing more funding to community based programs. But I think until the state has a comprehensive data set on its juvenile offenders, it's difficult to really determine what effect those reforms have had on the juvenile justice system. And I think that's echoed in stakeholders responses as part of question two. Right. So, uh, stakeholders did have negative opinions on several of the reforms that we asked them about. But until we get that complete data or until the state has that complete data on as juvenile offenders, it's really difficult to say whether or not those negative opinions or more related to, um, probation officers and other stakeholders, uh, getting used to a very new and very different approach to treating juvenile offenders, um, or whether or not there are actual shortcomings. Um, with the new reforms. Matt [inaudible] is a principal auditor at legislative post audit. He supervised an audit examining the effects of Senate bill three 67 which was passed in 2016 stakeholder's opinions on Senate bill three 67 reforms and whether Kansas has a process to determine whether these reforms have been successful. Matt, thank you so much for walking me through your findings. Thank you.
Speaker 1:
17:50
Thank you for listening to the rundown. To hear more podcasts, subscribe on Spotify or Apple podcasts. For more information about legislative post audit and our audit reports, visit our website@ksalpa.org and follow us on Twitter at KSU event.
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