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Review Of Juvenile Justice Reform Stalls In Kansas House

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

Efforts to repeal major juvenile justice reforms passed in Kansas last year appear to have stalled.

The law passed last year is aimed at rehabilitating juvenile offenders closer to their families rather than in prisons or group homes that studies show often cause more problems than they solve.

But the law stripped prosecutors and judges of some discretion to impose stiffer sentences in some juvenile cases so those groups opposed the changes from the start.

Rep. Russ Jennings, the new chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, says that he was asked to try and get the law repealed, though he didn’t say by whom.

Instead of a repeal, Jennings has the committee considering a slate of amendments that are relatively minor, with one exception.

“If a juvenile uses a firearm in the commission of a felony crime, they may be committed to a juvenile correctional facility even though they don’t meet the new law requirements," Jennings says.

An advocacy group for prosecutors favors that amendment.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.