Hearing an annual report from Harvey/McPherson Counties Community Corrections Director Janet Cagle has become commonplace for the Harvey County Commission — with the governing body receiving an update on yearly outcomes before agreeing to continue services with the organization.
Monday brought about this process once again. While Cagle reviewed the efforts of the past fiscal year for the commission, noting another success in terms of reaching goals (with an 82 percent success rate — the goal is 75 percent —for adult probationers in Harvey County), the future was also a key focus — particularly in regards to juvenile offenders.
Passage of Senate Bill 367 last year placed a ticking clock on the utilization of juvenile detention centers in the state of Kansas, with an emphasis on trying to keep juvenile offenders in their homes. As that plan is addressed in phases, the state is beginning to see a cost savings that is now being put towards reinvestment grants to further that progress.
"The reinvestment funds are coming from a savings that these youth did not go to detention or out-of-home placements," Cagle said, "so that funding is available to bring back into the community to keep these kids in their homes and provide evidence-based services to them."
Cagle presented her reinvestment grant proposal to the commission on Monday, outlining a number of new, evidence-based services such a grant would support to help in those efforts to move away from sending juvenile defenders to detention centers.
One such service Cagle included in the grant proposal was the usage of forward-thinking interactive journals — a practice aimed at getting juvenile offenders to diagnose the rationale behind their actions in order to deter any repeat incidents.
"It's like a cognitive behavioral journal," Cagle said. "It's asking the youth, like the crime they committed, what were you doing before? What was your mindset at the time the crime was committed and gets them to think about the crime to where hopefully they can change their behaviors in the future."
Journaling is to be done in conjunction with probation officers, while reinvestment funds are also being sought to add new incentives for juvenile offenders, increase transportation costs for trips to cognitive behavioral services in Sedgwick County and offer mental health and substance abuse evaluations/treatment. The latter is something Cagle targeted as it is something that is not always available to offenders who are living in poverty.
Along with the new services, Cagle noted the grant aims to secure additional funding for Offender Victim Ministries and the services it provides for juveniles including neighborhood accountability boards, mentoring services and victim offender conferencing.
Questions from the commission mainly pertained to drug cases and if community corrections is seeing an increase in such cases among juvenile offenders. Reports from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations illustrate that those numbers have gone up in Harvey County over the past five years (from 20 arrests in 2012 to 46 in 2016), and commissioners noted they expect to see those types of arrests increase with the reinstatement of the drug task force.
While Cagle said she is unsure if the grant process would allow her to request additional funds to address that issue, she stated confidence in the programs the department has chosen to pursue through the reinvestment grant and the benefits they will provide for both offenders and the community as a whole.
"Evidence-based programming is the programming that works with not only the youth, but the adults. If you have evidence-based programming and practices within your agency, you will see success," Cagle said. "Our goal is always the safety of the community, so I think this will give the youth and families a better understanding of the behavior. Hopefully they would not have any further arrests."
Continuing the services agreement with Harvey/McPherson Counties Community Corrections, the commission approved Cagle's grant proposal. Pending approval by the Kansas Department of Corrections, she said the new services could be launched by December in the continued effort to reduce out-of-home placements and improve the rate of recidivism for juvenile offenders.