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Alternative Sentencing Policies for Drug Offenders - Panel at the 2009 NIJ Conference

NCJ Number
Roger Werholtz; Don Stemen; Andresdn F. Rengifo; Linda Truitt
Date Published
June 2009
5 pages
This is the audio and transcript of presentations at one of the panels of the 2009 NIJ Conference, a panel that discussed "Alternative Sentencing Policies for Drug Offenders."
The panel presentations are based on an NIJ-sponsored evaluation of the effectiveness of Kansas Senate Bill 123, which mandates community-based drug abuse treatment for drug possession by nonviolent offenders in lieu of prison. The first presenter reviews the context for Senate bill 123, which was one of the products of the Kansas Sentencing Commission, which has a statutory requirement to propose one or more alternatives to the construction of prison beds when the State's prison population is projected to reach 95 percent of capacity within the coming year. The bill mandates that individuals with certain low-level criminal histories who were convicted only of drug possession not be sentenced to prison, but rather to community-based supervision, supplemented by intensive community-based substance abuse treatment. Some of the organizational complexities that impede the implementation of this legislation at the county level are discussed, including the lack of existing protocols, personnel, and treatment services for managing the projected demand on probation agencies. A presenter who was part of the evaluation team that examined the progress and outcomes of implementing S.B. 123 notes that the community corrections districts that were responsible for supervising offenders have made progress in developing partnerships with community organizations that provide drug treatment services. The evaluation concluded that the State has been successful in changing practices for managing low-level drug offenders at the community level. Although there are positive effects for individuals receiving drug treatment, they have not matched the progress in implementing the systemic framework required to implement S.B. 123.