Topeka – Kansas House of Representative Joe Patton (R-Topeka) Thursday announced legislation aimed at strengthening the state’s sentencing guidelines and putting serious sex offenders in prison will become law.
The Governor signed House Bill 2707, which will go into effect upon its publication in the Kansas Statute Book.
Rep. Patton, sponsor of the legislation, said the new law will keep judges from issuing a lesser sentence for those convicted of serious sexual violence crimes.
“Those who prey on our innocent children must be held accountable for their actions and be sent to prison,” Patton said.
After a Topeka judge issued lesser sentences for a man convicted of numerous sex crimes against a child last year, Rep. Patton pledged to work to stop the practice. He held a series of public meetings about the state’s sentencing guidelines in connection with Safe Streets of Topeka-Shawnee County and the group’s efforts to make the capital city a safer place to live. Patton is a member of Safe Streets’ government committee.
"It has been a long journey from the court house, to the town hall meetings, through the legislature. This is the result of a lot of effort from a large number of people and I would like to thank everyone involved. It really shows that democracy works when we work together," Patton said.
Patton also said under the current law multiple convictions do not usually result in prison time. Under HB 2707 a person who is convicted of felony theft four or times will spend time in prison.
“I made a promise to my constituents that I would work to make our streets safer. With HB 2707, we’ve done that,” Patton said.
HB 2707 also authorizes the court to put certain felons in a substance abuse treatment program established by the Kansas Department of Corrections for at least four months and allows a court to keep jurisdiction to modify an offender’s sentence to a less severe penalty after the successful completion of the substance abuse treatment program.
Rep. Patton serves on the Health and Human Services, and Judiciary committees as well as the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations. He represents the 54th district which includes south-central Topeka and Shawnee County, including Auburn.