Brownback Proposes Move For Juvenile Justice Authority

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The state's juvenile and adult offenders could soon once again be managed under the same agency.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced Monday that he's proposing an executive reorganization order putting the Juvenile Justice Authority under the Kansas Department of Corrections.

JJA was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1997, with a goal to improve services to juvenile offenders and focus on prevention and intervention.

But Brownback says a series of recent audits show it isn't working.

“The post audit report released this summer highlighted how the decades-old approach of a social services focus taken by policy makers and previous administrations failed to provide the safety and security that our juvenile offenders require and deserve,” Brownback said. “Moving JJA to KDOC will increase the emphasis on safety while continuing to provide programs proven to get our youth back on the right path.”

Brownback's order would establish a Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Services. He says Acting JJA Commissioner Terri Williams will be appointed to the role.

Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said the merger will take into account the special needs of juvenile offenders.

"While there are some distinct differences in program needs and management strategies for juveniles, and we will continue the rehabilitation of the juvenile population, it is imperative that basic safety and security practices are routinely employed in correctional environments,” Roberts said. “A consolidation will make both agencies stronger and better equipped to provide comprehensive corrections in the State of Kansas.”

Lawmakers have 60 days to consider the Governor's order. If neither chamber rejects it, it takes effect July 1, 2013.

The state says it has approximately 1,506 juvenile offenders currently in JJA custody. Of those, 328 are housed at JJA facilities in Larned and the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka. State law allows youth from ages 10 to 23 to be in JJA custody.