Principal Research Analyst
In Kansas, three entities comprise the community supervision structure: Court Services, Community Corrections, and Parole Services.
Parole Services supervises offenders released from Kansas correctional facilities on parole, post-release supervision, or conditional release. This article will focus on the functions of Court Services and Community Corrections and how they compare to each other.
One of the duties delegated to the Office of Judicial Administration (OJA) by the Kansas Supreme Court includes trial court support. Court Services Officers (CSOs), often referred to as probation officers, supervise a large population of lower-risk offenders in Kansas.
The purpose of Court Services is to carry out the orders of the district court in a timely, professional, and ethical manner, consistent with community interests. The roles and duties of Court Services and its personnel are governed by state law, administrative rule, and local court policy. According to the Kansas Association of Court Services Officers, the CSOs’ primary role of service is accountability to the court and the court process.
The duties of CSOs vary. In general, CSOs supervise the probation of adult and juvenile offenders, work with children in need of care, research and write pre-sentence investigation reports, and perform other duties as directed by the district court.
Community Corrections seeks to supervise and assist high-risk people convicted of felony offenses to address substance abuse and mental illness. Community Corrections focuses on public safety, helping people make changes to reduce criminal behavior, and reducing admissions to prison facilities. Community Corrections is a state and local partnership in which county departments are funded by the State through grants from the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC).
Community Corrections is composed of county employees working under the direction of local boards of county commissioners who supervise higher-risk adults and youth assigned by the court for intensive supervision probation.
|Court Services||Community Corrections|
|County – State||State||County|
|Crime Level||Low-risk Felony Probation; Misdemeanor Probation||Moderate and High Risk|
Dual Supervision Legislation
An issue that has arisen with the current supervision structure in Kansas is how to resolve conflicts that may occur when an offender is ordered to be supervised by multiple entities due to multiple convictions.
In response to a recommendation made by the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission in December 2021, the 2022 Legislature passed SB 408, which provides guidance for the consolidation of supervision into one supervision entity or agency for an offender under the supervision of two or more supervision entities or agencies.
The bill amended the statute governing transfer of supervision of persons on parole, on probation, assigned to a Community Corrections program, or under a suspended sentence to allow the district court where the defendant is currently being supervised to use the guidelines to determine whether it is appropriate to transfer jurisdiction of the defendant to a different district court or retain the jurisdiction.
In 2022, the Judicial Branch reported to the Legislative Budget Committee that the 2021 Legislature provided it with funding to hire 70 additional CSOs. Those positions were filled, and the retention rate for those positions, and CSOs in general, was reported as high.
The Judicial Branch has stated that it is better situated to meet the statutorily mandated duties CSOs must perform, in addition to new criminal justice reform duties, locally originating duties, and other services CSOs provide that are designed to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
Subsequently, KDOC stated that Community Corrections was unable to compete with the higher wages that Court Services could provide to CSOs, which would negatively impact retention of Community Corrections officers, and, ultimately, offender recidivism.
The Legislature added $2.6 million from the State General Fund (SGF) in FY 2022 and $8.4 million SGF for FY 2023 for the purpose of salary increases among Community Corrections agencies, as reflected in SB 267.
See the 2023 Briefing Book article “Board of Indigents’ Defense Services and Judicial Branch Budget Increases” on page 61 for more information.