Kansas Legislators Consider "Treatment Not Jail" Bill 3/7/03

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


With no room at the jailhouse and no money in the treasury, Kansas is the latest state to consider alternatives to prison sentences for some drug offenders. SB123, introduced on February 26, calls for the mandatory treatment of first-time drug possessors in lieu of prison sentences. The bill has already passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is headed soon for debate on the Senate floor.

The bill has a chance, Senate President Dave Kerr (R-Hutchinson) told the Kansas City Star. "If people really look at the facts, we're facing either more prisons or dealing with groups differently," Kerr said.

Indeed, Kansas prisons are currently at 98% of capacity, and the number of drug offenders imprisoned for possession last year (472) slightly exceeds the number of new beds (432) the state estimates would be required to house them next year. The following year, barring changes, the Kansas Department of Corrections estimates that it will need an additional 508 beds for drug possession offenders.

Passage of SB123 would relieve some of the pressure. Under its provisions, first-time drug possession offenders now sent to prison would instead go to certified drug treatment programs, including outpatient, community-based programs. Also, those currently doing time for drug possession would be released from prison into treatment programs, provided they met Corrections Department security criteria. Persons with more than one drug possession charge or those imprisoned for selling or manufacturing drugs would not be eligible, nor would those with violent felonies.

The bill was crafted by the Kansas Sentencing Commission. "I think people are looking at ways to deal with limited resources and declining treatment programs," said Barbara Tombs, executive director of the commission.

But despite fiscal crisis, law-and-order politics runs deep in Kansas. Senator David Adkins (D-Leawood), who was attacked as "soft on crime" for earlier votes when he ran for Attorney General last year, told the Star voting for the bill could be the kiss of death. "I would recommend anyone who wants to run for attorney general any time in their lifetime not vote for that bill, because it would be used in nefarious ways to bludgeon them to death politically."

And the prohibitionists are already raising the hue and cry. "This is going to make us the most attractive state for drug possession," warned Kansas Bureau of Investigation attorney Kyle Smith. "We'll be the new Amsterdam."

If that remark seems a bit over the top, consider what Smith told the Judiciary Committee when he addressed the bill as representative of the Kansas Peace Officers Association: "It merely dumps hundreds of drug abusers and traffickers out of the prisons and into our local communities... It does this by simply decriminalizing all kinds of drug possession and makes it retroactive."

As noted above, the bill does not apply to persons convicted of drug sales, nor does it decriminalize drug possession in Kansas. Still, given the tenor of the debate, Kansas could have a ways to go before it joins the at least 12 other states that have moved since 2001 to reduce drug prison sentences.

Visit http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2004/123.pdf to view the bill online.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #277, 3/7/03 50 Years for Stealing Videotapes? No Problem, Say Justices -- Supreme Court Upholds California Three-Strikes Law | Medical Marijuana Update: Bill Killed in New Mexico, New Ones Introduced in New York and Rhode Island | Australia: NSW Green Party Drug Platform in Tabloid Exposé Furor as Election Looms | "Seeds of Peace" Released in Brussels as Prelude to Vienna UN Conference | Medical Marijuana Supporters Demonstrate at Fundraiser for Presidential Candidate Howard Dean | Alert: HEA Reform Legislation Re-filed, Needs Your Support | Newsbrief: Swiss Lawmakers Give Okay to Continued Prescription Heroin | Newsbrief: Sweden's Drug Head Calls for Needle Exchange Programs Across Country | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Oxycontin Not So Deadly, Researchers Find | Newsbrief: California Highway Patrol Settles Racial Profiling Lawsuit | Kansas Legislators Consider "Treatment Not Jail" Bill | Newsbrief: In Surprise Move, Judge Changes Mind, Declines to Jail Oakland Cannabis Co-op Head | Newsbrief: Two Suicides Enough for One Pot Bust, Says Wisconsin Judge, Orders Probation for Son of Dead Couple | Media Scan: New York Times, The Economist, The Independent, Washington Times, Change the Climate Ads, HRC Newsletter | Drug War Vigil Film Festival Seeking Submissions | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]