Juvenile Services

The Division of Juvenile Services within the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) oversees juvenile offenders in Kansas.

Individuals as young as 10 years of age and as old as 17 years of age may be adjudicated as juvenile offenders. KDOC may retain custody of a juvenile offender in a juvenile correctional facility (JCF) until the age of 22.5 years old and in the community until the age of 23 years old.

Juvenile Services leads broadly based state and local, public, and private partnerships to provide the State’s comprehensive juvenile justice system, including prevention and intervention programs, community-based graduated sanctions, and JCFs.

Juvenile Services’ operations consist of two major components:

  • Community-based prevention, immediate interventions, and graduated sanctions programs for nonviolent juvenile offenders. Juvenile Services administers grants to local communities for juvenile crime prevention and intervention initiatives. In addition to providing technical assistance and training to local communities, the division is responsible for grant oversight and auditing all juvenile justice programs and services; and
  • A juvenile correctional facility for violent juvenile offenders. At present, the only JCF in Kansas is the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) located in Topeka.

Previously, JCFs were also located in Atchison, Beloit, and Larned.

The 2016 Legislature passed SB 367, which made substantial reforms to the Kansas juvenile justice system in both the community-based services and the JCF operations for which Juvenile Services is responsible. KDOC’s Juvenile Services program is tasked with implementing many of the provisions of SB 367, either alone or in conjunction with other partners in the juvenile justice system.

The 2017 Legislature passed House Sub. for SB 42, which made further amendments to the system as a follow-up to SB 367.

Further detail regarding SB 367 and House Sub. for SB 42 is provided on the following pages.

Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority’s History and Community Focus

The juvenile justice reform process implemented in Kansas from 1997 to 2000 focused on prevention, intervention, and community-based services, with the premise that a youth should be placed in a JCF for rehabilitation and reform only as a last resort and that youth are more effectively rehabilitated and served within their own community. Prior to the transition, juvenile justice functions were the responsibility of several state agencies, including the Office of Judicial Administration (OJA); the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), which is now the Department for Children and Families (DCF); and KDOC. Other objectives included separating juvenile offenders from children in need of care in the delivery of services.

Due to the focus on serving youth in their own community, each county or group of cooperating counties is required by statute to make themselves eligible to receive state funding for the development, implementation, operation, and improvement of juvenile community correctional services. Each county, or the designee of a group of counties, is referred to as an administrative county and directly receives funding from KDOC for operation of community juvenile justice services.

SB 367 will adjust the focus and funding mechanisms for some of this funding over the next several years.

Juvenile Justice Reform Time Line

1993 and 1994. Research began on the proposed transition with a legislative review of juvenile crime and the creation of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which was charged to study and develop policies and recommendations regarding juvenile justice reform.

1995. The Kansas Youth Authority (KYA) and the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) were created with the enactment of 1995 SB 312.
The mission of KYA was to develop policies related to the scope and function of the JJA.
Specific areas studied included confinement, diversion, fines, restitution, community service, standard probation, intensive supervision, house arrest programs, electronic monitoring, structured school, day reporting centers, community residential care, treatment centers, and sanctions.

The JJA was assigned to:

  • Control and manage the operation of the state youth centers (now referred to as JCFs);
  • Evaluate the rehabilitation of juveniles committed to the JJA and prepare and submit periodic reports to the committing court;
  • Consult with the state schools and courts on the development of programs for the reduction and prevention of delinquency and the treatment of juvenile offenders;
  • Cooperate with other agencies that deal with the care and treatment of juvenile offenders;
  • Advise local, state, and federal officials, public and private agencies, and lay groups on the need for and possible methods of reduction and prevention of delinquency and the treatment of juvenile offenders;
  • Assemble and distribute information relating to delinquency and report on studies relating to community conditions that affect the problem of delinquency;
  • Assist any community within the state by conducting a comprehensive survey of the community’s available public and private resources, and recommend methods of establishing a community program for combating juvenile delinquency and crime; and
  • Direct state money to providers of alternative placements in local communities, such as supervised release into the community, out-of-home placement, community services work, or other community-based service; provide assistance to such providers; and evaluate and monitor the performance of such providers relating to the provision of services.

1996. HB 2900, known as the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1996, outlined the powers and duties of the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice. The bill also addressed the areas of security measures, intake and assessment, dual sentencing, construction of a maximum security facility or facilities, child support and expense reimbursement, criminal expansion, disclosure of information, immediate intervention programs, adult presumption, parental involvement in dispositional options, parental responsibility, school attendance, parental rights, and immunization.

Further, the bill changed the date for the transfer of powers, duties, and functions regarding juvenile offenders from SRS and other state agencies to July 1, 1996. The bill stated KYA must develop a transition plan that included a juvenile placement matrix, aftercare services upon release from a JCF, coordination with SRS to consolidate the functions of juvenile offender and children in need of care intake and assessment services on a 24-hour basis, recommendations on how all juveniles in police custody should be processed, and the transfer from a state-based juvenile justice system to a community-based system according to judicial districts.

1997. The Legislature amended the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1996 with House Sub. for SB 69, including changes in the administration of the law. In addition, the amendments dealt with juvenile offender placements in an effort to maximize community-based placements and reserve state institutional placements for the most serious, chronic, and violent juvenile offenders.

Also included in this bill was the creation of the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice and the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which took the place of KYA. On July 1, JJA began operations and assumed all the powers, duties, and functions concerning juvenile offenders from SRS.

2013. Executive Reorganization Order (ERO) No. 42 abolished the JJA and transferred the jurisdiction, powers, functions, and duties of the JJA and the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice to KDOC and the Secretary of Corrections, effective July 1, 2013. All officers and employees of the JJA engaged in the exercise of the powers, duties, and functions transferred by the ERO were transferred to the KDOC, unless they were not performing necessary services.

2014. Following an informational hearing on juvenile justice reform initiatives, the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice charged a subcommittee with evaluating reform proposals and recommending legislation on the topic.

Various proposals were consolidated and passed by the Legislature in Senate Sub. for HB 2588.

The provisions included:

  • Requiring a standardized risk assessment tool or instrument be included as part of the pre-sentence investigation and report following an adjudication;
  • Prohibiting the prosecution of any juvenile less than 12 years of age as an adult;
  • Restructuring the placement matrix to make commitment to a JCF a departure sentence requiring a hearing and substantial and compelling reasons to impose such sentence for certain lower level offense categories;
  • Allowing juvenile offenders serving minimum-term placement sentences under the matrix to receive “good time” credit;
  • Requiring the Secretary of Corrections to take certain measures to evaluate youth residential centers (YRCs) and develop fee schedules and plans for related services;
  • Prohibiting a child alleged or found to be a child in need of care from being placed in a juvenile detention facility unless certain conditions are met; and
  • Creating a new alternative adjudication procedure for misdemeanor-level juvenile offenses to be utilized at the discretion of the county or district attorney with jurisdiction over the offense.

Recent Reform Efforts

2015. Additional reform efforts continued with the passage of HB 2336, which required the court to administer a risk assessment tool or review a risk assessment tool administered within the past six months before a juvenile offender can be placed in a juvenile detention center, under house arrest, or in the custody of KDOC or can be committed to a sanctions house or to a JCF.

Further, to examine Kansas’ juvenile justice system, leaders of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government established a bipartisan, inter-branch Juvenile Justice Workgroup. In cooperation with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, the Workgroup was charged with a comprehensive examination of the system to develop data-driven policies based upon research and built upon consensus among key stakeholders from across the state. The Workgroup recommendations were presented at its November 17, 2015, meeting. A complete list of the Workgroup’s recommendations can be found at https://www.doc.ks.gov/juvenile-services/Workgroup/report.

The recommendations from the 2015 Workgroup were drafted into legislation and introduced as SB 367 in the 2016 Session. While substantial changes were made to the bill during committee action and the conference committee process, the enacted bill nevertheless represented a comprehensive reform of the Kansas juvenile justice system. Major provisions of the bill include the following.

Juveniles in custody. The bill narrows the persons authorized to take a juvenile into custody and makes delivery of a juvenile to the juvenile’s parent the default in most instances. The bill also requires both release and referral determinations once a juvenile is taken into custody to be made by juvenile intake and assessment workers, who must be trained in evidence-based practices.

Immediate interventions and community-based programs. The bill requires KDOC and OJA to develop standards and procedures for an immediate intervention process and programs and alternative means of adjudication. The bill requires KDOC to plan and fund incentives for the development of immediate intervention programs, removes limitations on eligibility for such programs, requires immediate intervention be offered to certain juveniles, and requires juveniles making a first appearance without an attorney to be informed of the right to an immediate intervention.

Further, courts must appoint a multidisciplinary team to review cases when a juvenile does not substantially comply with the development of an immediate intervention plan.
Eligibility for alternative means of adjudication is changed from a juvenile committing a misdemeanor to a juvenile with fewer than two adjudications. The bill establishes overall case length and probation length limits for all juvenile offenders except those adjudicated of the most serious felonies.

The bill also requires KDOC to consult with the Kansas Supreme Court in adopting rules and regulations for a statewide system of structured, community-based, graduated responses for technical probation violations, conditional release violations, and sentence condition violations, which community supervision officers will use based on the results of a risk and needs assessment. The community supervision officer must develop a case plan with the juvenile and the juvenile’s family. Probation revocation may be considered only for a third or subsequent technical violation, subject to additional limitations. KDOC is required to develop an earned-time calculation system for the calculation of sentences. Similarly, the Kansas Supreme Court and KDOC must establish a system of earned discharge for juvenile probationers.

Criteria for detention and alternatives. KDOC and OJA are required to develop, implement, and validate a statewide detention risk assessment tool for each youth under consideration for detention.

The criteria for detention are amended to require certain detention risk assessment results or grounds to override such results. Courts must establish a specific term of detention when placing a juvenile in detention, which may not exceed the overall case length limit.

The bill prohibits placement in a juvenile detention center in certain circumstances and removes juvenile detention facilities as a placement option under the Revised Kansas Code for Care of Children, unless the child also is alleged to be a juvenile offender and the placement is authorized under the Juvenile Code. The permissible justifications for extended detention are narrowed, and a detention review hearing is required every 14 days a juvenile is in detention, except for juveniles charged with the most serious offenses.

The bill requires OJA and KDOC adopt a single, uniform risk and needs assessment to be administered and used statewide in the post adjudication and predisposition process.

The bill narrows and eliminates some alternatives and amends the alternative allowing commitment to a JCF to allow placement in a JCF or YRC. Effective January 1, 2018, the Secretary of Corrections may contract for up to 50 non-foster home beds in YRCs for placement of juvenile offenders. The bill limits commitment to detention and adds certain short-term placement options if a juvenile has been adjudicated of certain sexual or human trafficking-related offenses. Further, KDOC must develop community integration programs for juveniles ready to transition to independent living.

The bill amends the placement matrix for commitment to a JCF to require a written finding before such placement, remove a departure sentence provision, create a serious offender category, remove two chronic offender categories, and create a rebuttable presumption certain offenders will be placed in a YRC instead of a JCF. The bill also requires a case plan be developed for every juvenile sentenced to a JCF, with input from the juvenile and the juvenile’s family.

Adult prosecution. The bill limits extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution to cases involving the most serious offenses and raises the age for adult prosecution from 12 to 14.

Implementation. The bill establishes a 19-member Kansas Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee (Oversight Committee) to oversee implementation of reforms in the juvenile justice system and requires annual reports. [Note: The Oversight Committee is separate from the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight, established by KSA 46-2801 and charged in that statute with certain ongoing oversight duties related to the juvenile justice system. Additional members and duties were added to the Oversight Committee by 2017 House Sub. for SB 42, discussed in the following subsection.] The bill adds a juvenile defense representative member to the previously existing juvenile corrections advisory boards and requires the boards to adhere to the goals of the Juvenile Code and coordinate with the Oversight Committee. The boards must annually consider the availability of treatment programs, alternative incarceration programs, mental health treatment, and development of risk assessment tools, and report annually to KDOC and the Oversight Committee the costs of programs needed in its judicial district to reduce out-of-home placement and recidivism.

The bill requires KDOC and OJA to provide at least semiannual training on evidence-based programs and practices to individuals who work with juveniles. The OJA is required to designate or develop a training protocol for judges, county and district attorneys, and defense attorneys who work in juvenile court. Further, the bill requires the Attorney General to collaborate with the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and the State Board of Education (KSBE) to create skill development training for responding effectively to misconduct in school, while minimizing student exposure to the juvenile justice system, and directs KSBE to require school districts to develop and approve memorandums of understanding with guidelines for referral of school-based behaviors to law enforcement or the juvenile justice system.

Funding. The bill creates the Kansas Juvenile Justice Improvement Fund (renamed the “Evidence-Based Programs Account of the State General Fund” by 2017 House Sub. for SB 42, discussed below), administered by KDOC, for the development and implementation of evidence-based community programs and practices for juvenile offenders and their families by community supervision offices. Each year, the Secretary of Corrections is required to certify actual or projected cost savings in state agency accounts from decreased reliance on incarceration in a JCF or YRC, and these amounts are then transferred to the fund.

2017. The Legislature passed House Sub. for SB 42, which adjusted changes made by 2016 SB 367 and made further modifications to the juvenile justice system. Major provisions of this bill include the following.

Absconding from supervision. Among other changes regarding absconding from supervision, the bill allows a court to issue a warrant after reasonable efforts to locate a juvenile who has absconded are unsuccessful and to toll the probation term limits and overall case length limits (established by SB 367) while a juvenile has absconded.
Immediate intervention programs. The bill requires KDOC to establish and maintain a statewide searchable database containing information regarding juveniles who participate in an immediate intervention program.

The bill establishes that immediate intervention does not have to be offered to a juvenile charged with a misdemeanor sex offense, a juvenile who has previously participated in immediate intervention, or a juvenile who was originally charged with a felony but had the charge amended to a misdemeanor as a result of a plea agreement.

Sentencing and placement. The bill amends the sentencing alternatives and placement matrix to allow a court to commit a juvenile directly to a JCF or YRC placement for a term of 6-18 months, regardless of the risk level of the juvenile, upon a finding that a firearm was used in the commission of a felony offense by the juvenile.

The bill removes a three-month limit on short-term alternative placement allowed when a juvenile is adjudicated of certain sex offenses and certain other conditions are met.
Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee. The bill adds two members to the Oversight Committee—a youth member of the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (appointed by the chairperson of the Group) and a director of a juvenile detention facility (appointed by the Attorney General)—bringing its total membership to 21. The bill also provides two additional duties for the Oversight Committee: 1) study and create a plan to address the disparate treatment of and availability of resources for juveniles with mental health needs in the juvenile justice system, and 2) review portions of juvenile justice reform that require KDOC and OJA to cooperate and make recommendations when there is no consensus between the two agencies.

2018. The Legislature passed HB 2454, which made further adjustments to the juvenile justice system as reformed by SB 367. Major provisions of this bill include the following.

Detention hearings. The bill amended the statute in the Revised Kansas Juvenile Justice Code (Code) governing detention hearings to expand the permitted use of two-way electronic audio-visual communication between the juvenile and the judge. The bill further amended law related to detention review hearings by adding a provision stating such hearings are not required for a juvenile offender held in detention awaiting case disposition. The bill amended the Code statute governing post-adjudication orders and hearings to require, if a juvenile offender is being held in detention, that a dispositional hearing for sentencing take place within 45 days after the juvenile has been adjudicated.

Tolling of probation term and case length limits. The bill amended the statute governing probation term limits and overall case length limits in the Code to clarify that when such limits are tolled due to the offender absconding from supervision while on probation, the limits shall not begin to run again until the offender is located and brought back to the jurisdiction. The bill also clarified, if the juvenile fails to appear for the dispositional hearing, such limits shall not apply until the juvenile is brought before the court for disposition.

Duties of Oversight Committee. The bill amended one of the statutory duties of the Kansas Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee to require the Oversight Committee to “monitor,” rather than “calculate,” any state expenditures that have been avoided by reductions in the number of youth placed in out-of-home placements. A corresponding requirement that a summary of such averted costs be included in the Oversight Committee’s annual report was changed from “calculated by the committee” to “determined.”

Juvenile Crisis Intervention Centers

The 2018 Legislature also passed House Sub. for SB 179, establishing a framework for juvenile crisis intervention centers, which will provide short term observation, assessment, treatment, and case planning, in addition to referral, for juveniles experiencing a mental health crisis who are likely to cause harm to self or others. The bill provides intervention center requirements in several areas, including access to various services, construction and environmental features, and policies and procedures for operation and staff monitoring of entrances and exits. The bill also outlines circumstances for admission, prohibits admission for more than 30 days, and allows a parent with legal custody or a legal guardian of a juvenile to remove the juvenile from the center at any time.

The bill allows the Secretary of Corrections to enter into a memorandum of agreement with other cabinet agencies to provide funding for juvenile crisis intervention services of up to $2.0 million annually from the Evidence-Based Programs Account created by SB 367.

2019. In House Sub. for SB 25, (the Appropriations Bill), the Legislature added language in fiscal year (FY 2019) to require DCF to establish a working group that will 1) gather data and issue a report on the impact of 2016 SB 367 on youth with offender behaviors entering into foster care placement or in a foster care placement; 2) evaluate services being offered and identify services needed; and 3) include representatives from DCF, child welfare organizations, mental health organizations, the Judicial Branch, law enforcement, and any other organizations with information on services as determined by the Secretary for Children and Families.

The Legislature added additional language for FY 2020 to require DCF to study the impact of 2016 SB 367 on crossover youth, who are defined as youth in foster care or at risk of being in foster care due to conduct that resulted in, or could result in, juvenile offender allegations. The agency submitted its findings November 1, 2019, to the relevant enumerated legislative committees. The topics the study was required to cover include comparing crossover youth with the broader juvenile offender population, a qualitative and quantitative analysis of what happens after crossover youth are taken into custody by public safety agencies or placed into the foster care system, and gaps in intervention services for crossover youth. A working group of 11 members, consisting of the Secretary of Corrections and Secretary for Children and Families, or their designees, as well as appointees by enumerated health, public safety, judicial, and religious organizations, assisted with the study.

In its final report, available at
http://www.dcf.ks.gov/Agency/Documents/Crossover_Youth_Working_Group_Final_Report_to_Legislature_2020.pdf, the working group made a number of findings related to crossover youth demographics; the number and nature of offender behaviors among crossover youth; juvenile intake and assessment outcomes for crossover youth; child welfare placements for crossover youth; and services offered to crossover youth.

Jordan Milholland, Senior Research Analyst

Robert Gallimore, Managing Research Analyst

Connor Stangler, Research Analyst