Report: Close prisons for juveniles

A group is pushing the state to close its last juvenile prison, arguing it's better and cheaper to provide community services, education and mentoring to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system.

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State News

October 15, 2021 - 4:12 PM

At a panel sponsored by Progeny in August, a coalition of juvenile justice reformers shared skepticism about wisdom of Legislature and governor cutting $21 million from a community program fund. Progeny has released a new report calling for the closing of the state’s last juvenile prison. Photo by (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Incarcerating young Kansans is more costly and inhumane than providing community services, education and mentoring to keep them out of the juvenile justice system, according to a new report by a nonprofit pushing the state to shutter its last juvenile prison.

“The prisons we have now, they’re just meant to hold our young people,” said Jazmine Rogers, a youth leader with Progeny. “They’re meant to be dehumanizing. They’re not meant to focus on how do we restore this young person, how do we prepare this young person to re-enter their community?” 

Kansas has worked in recent years to reform its juvenile correctional system. In 2016, it passed a sweeping reform bill that closed a youth prison in Larned and earmarked money for programs to keep kids out of the system. But there’s more work to be done, Progeny says. 

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