New bill would release prisoners earlier, could address overcrowding

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lawmakers are looking to let some criminals out of prison earlier. They said that’s to help address overcrowding in Kansas prisons.

A new bill that was voted out of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee would increase the amount of good time credits for certain prisoners.

That means inmates could be up for parole earlier than they currently would be.

“The one thing that most inmates want is…out, and if they can create a shorter path to getting out through behavior, many will do that,” said Lakin Representative Russ Jennings, who chairs the committee. “Prison’s not a pleasant place to be.”

Kansas is lacking the space to hold the nearly 10,000 prisoners it has, and has even sent some to private prisons out of state.

While many prisoners get out of prison early through parole, this would encourage more prisoners to find ways to shorten their sentences.

In addition to good behavior, completing a substance abuse treatment program, getting a GED, or taking a vocational training class can earn good time credits.

“To encourage people to follow the rules, not engage in violence, not engage in rule-breaking, participate in programs to better equip them for when they’re released,” Jennings said. “It’s predicated upon achieving expectations routinely and consistently.”

The program does not apply to the most serious crimes such as murder.

The committee voted to move forward with the bill, meaning it heads to the full House for a vote.

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