Joint Legislative Budget Committee Atchison Juvenile Correctional by AaronMoule


									        Joint Legislative Budget Committee
       Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility

                 September 18, 2008

J. Russell Jennings
         On September 8, 2008 the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority announced plans to suspend
operations at the Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility, (AJCF), effective December 8, 2008.
The agency further announced the intent to repurpose the facility for use as a residential care
facility, a Youth Residential Center II, (YRCII), essentially group home placement for juveniles
placed in the custody of the commissioner through the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP)
process and contract with a private provider.

        Subsequent to the announced action, Christina Butler, Legislative Research,
communicated with JJA indicating that this committee wished for me to appear today to answer
three specific questions.

               1.) Why is the Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility being closed?
               2.) What is the authority for such action?
               3.) What are the future plans for the Atchison facility?

Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility Plan

        JJA intends to suspend correctional facility operations December 8, 2008. The facility
will be repurposed for use as a Youth Residential Center II (YRCII) through the issuance of a
Request for Proposal (RFP). In advance of the issuance of an RFP, I will meet with community
leaders from Atchison to fully inform them of our intent for the facility. The first of these
meetings is tentatively set for the end of September. Through these discussions a dialogue will
be established between JJA and the community regarding community sentiment and support of
the proposed future use. The most serious implication for the community will be integration of
as many as 60 additional youth in the local schools. The planned repurposing of AJCF took into
consideration that as many as 40 juvenile offenders are on waiting lists for admission to a YRCII
on any given day. Typically, youth awaiting placement in a YRCII are held in community
based, county operated, juvenile detention centers. Repurposing as a YRCII will provide added
YRCII capacity in an area of the state that is currently underserved. The added capacity will also
provide relief to local units of government through reducing demand upon local juvenile
detention centers.

        JJA is confident there is substantial interest in the provider community to partner with the
agency in the operation of a YRCII in Atchison. To date, 6 different providers have contacted
the agency to gain information about being involved in the RFP process. In addition to the 6
interested providers, 2 other entities have contacted JJA to determine whether or not the state
may be interested in selling the property.

        JJA will develop an RFP for issuance to interested providers. Once the agency is
satisfied the Atchison community is fully informed of the plan and has had an opportunity to
prepare for the influx of youth into the public school system the RFP will be issued. JJA expects
a contract for operations of the YRCII will be in place and the facility will become operational
between April 1 and July 1, 2009.

        Employees of AJCF who are subject to layoff as a result of this action were provided 90
days advanced notice of the intent to suspend operations. Affected employees are being
provided support and assistance through this difficult transition. JJA will do everything possible
to assure all affected employees land on their feet. Individual counseling sessions with human
resource specialists, the opportunity to transfer to another JJA operated facility, preferred hiring
status for any state employment opportunity for which the employee is qualified, and a job fair
during the month of October are some of the things the agency is doing to support displaced


        The powers and duties of the Commissioner of the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority are
established in K.S.A. 75-7024. K.S.A. 75-7024(s) provides the Commissioner specific authority
with regard to the operations of facilities. The statute provides as follows:

     (s) Have the authority to designate all or a portion of a facility for juveniles under the
 commissioner's jurisdiction as a:
        (1) Nonsecure detention facility;
        (2) facility for the educational or vocational training and related services;
        (3) facility for temporary placement pending other arrangements more appropriate for
 the juvenile's needs; and
        (4) facility for the provision of care and other services and not for the detention of
 (Emphasis added)
       The term facility is not specifically defined within the Juvenile Justice Authority’s
 authorizing statutes in Chapter 75. In order to properly define the term facility it is necessary
 to look to other statutes relating to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority and the Revised
 Kansas Juvenile Justice Code.

        The term facility is specifically used throughout statutes in the identification of the state
 operated juvenile correctional facilities. Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility, Beloit
 Juvenile Correctional Facility and Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility contain the term
 facility within their name.

        K.S.A. 38-2302(j) defines the phrase, “juvenile correctional facility” as meaning: “a
 facility operated by the commissioner for the commitment of juvenile offenders.”

       The Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility is clearly a facility as the term is used in
 K.S.A. 75-7024(s) (4). The Commissioner of Juvenile Justice has clear authority to
 designate the Atchison Juvenile Correctional Facility as a facility for the provision of care and
 other services including use as a residential facility for the placement of youth in the custody
 of the commissioner.

       The next question to be resolved is: Can the commissioner contract for operations of
 the facility as YRCII with an independent contractor?

      K.S.A. 75-7024(h) grants me broad authority to enter into contracts to carry out the
 purpose of the revised juvenile justice code. The statute provides:

    (h) Make and enter into all contracts and agreements and do all other acts and things
 necessary or incidental to the performance of functions and duties and the execution of
 powers under this act. The commissioner may enter into memorandums of agreement or
 contractual relationships with state agencies, other governmental entities or private providers
 as necessary to carry out the commissioner's responsibilities pursuant to the revised Kansas
 juvenile justice code.

      A question of legal authority regarding management, administration and transfer of
 budgeted funds may rise.

       K.S.A. 75-7024(c) provides that the commissioner: “Administer all state and federal
 funds appropriated to the juvenile justice authority and may coordinate with any other agency
 within the executive branch expending funds appropriated for juvenile justice.”

        In addition to the authority granted in K.S.A. 75-7024(c), specific enabling language is
contained in the budget for the agency adopted by the 2008 Session of the Kansas Legislature.
This provision provides: “(d) During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, the commissioner of
juvenile justice, with the approval of the director of the budget, may transfer any part of any item
of appropriation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, from the state general fund for the
juvenile justice authority or any juvenile correctional facility or institution under the general
supervision and management of the commissioner of juvenile justice to another item of
appropriation for fiscal year 2009 from the state general fund for the juvenile justice authority
or any juvenile correctional facility or institution under the general supervision and management
of the commissioner of juvenile justice. The commissioner of juvenile justice shall certify each
such transfer to the director of accounts and reports and shall transmit a copy of each such
certification to the director of legislative research.”

        The duty imposed and authority granted in K.S.A. 75-7024(c) and the language of the
legislation establishing the Juvenile Justice Authority budget for FY09 provide clear authority
for necessary budget transfers to facilitate the plan for repurposing of AJCF.

Why is the facility being repurposed?

       In late June, JJA and all other executive branch agencies were given a directive by the
Governor to prepare and submit a plan for a 2% reduction in the FY09 budget. Additionally, the
Governor directed that a reduced resource budget proposal be submitted for FY10 that provided
an additional 5% decrease.

        JJA immediately began the process of evaluating options in order to meet the stated
budget goals. JJA put in place a soft hiring freeze that requires a critical evaluation of position
need before any vacant position is filled. Juvenile correctional facilities were exempted from the
hiring limitation for all uniformed staff positions in order to assure continued security and safety
at the facilities. JJA carefully considered many options with an eye towards a budget solution

that would minimize or eliminate any negative impact a budget reduction might have on public
safety and effectively meeting the needs of youth and their families involved in the juvenile
justice system.

       JJA expenditures are in essence divided into four general categories Administration;
Juvenile Correctional Facilities; Provider payments - residential and PRTF services for youth in
custody and removed from their home; and Community Supervision and Services provided
through grants to counties to support Graduated Sanctions and Incentive Programs including
juvenile intake and assessment, juvenile intensive supervision probation and community case

        JJA is unable to reduce funding in the category of provider payments - purchase of
services to meet any budget reduction. Youth placed in the custody of the commissioner and
ordered by the court for out of home placement must be provided residential placement. There is
no option about the need for the placement or the obligation to pay. In FY09, 23% of the JJA
SGF budget is committed to provider payments - purchase of services. The full cost of any
residential placement other than Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF) is paid with
allocated SGF dollars. In the case of PRTF placements, Medicaid shares the cost of placement
with the state through paying 60% of the cost while the state contributes 40% of the cost. These
types of costs are included in the caseload process for other agencies with similar mandated

         JJA is required to provide juvenile correctional facility services for the incarceration and
treatment of juvenile offenders committed by the court. In FY09 46% of the JJA SGF budget is
dedicated to support the operations of juvenile correctional facilities. Facilities must have
adequate staffing to assure the protection and wellbeing of the youth committed to the facilities.
JJA is statutorily mandated to provide programming that is rehabilitative in nature. The potential
of sharing the burden of required cuts across facilities was considered. The effect of reductions
across all facilities would be to create an environment where the safety and effectiveness of all
facilities would be reduced, thus unacceptably placing staff and youth at risk.

        Juvenile justice reform in Kansas was predicated upon the principles of a balanced and
restorative justice system. Reform envisioned a comprehensive community based continuum of
services for juvenile offenders to assure that only the most chronic, serious and violent offenders
are committed to juvenile correctional facilities to serve a term of institutional confinement and

        Data indicates a significant reduction in the number of youth placed in custody of JJA
and in the number of youth committed to a juvenile correctional facility. The reductions in the
total number of youth committed to juvenile correctional facilities coupled with a significant
reduction in the number of youth suited for placement at AJCF has resulted in the census at
Atchison reducing to 28 youth on September 8th, the day of the announced repurposing. With an
average population of 28 youth the costs per day of service becomes $543 or $198,090 per youth
annually. As of the close of business on September 12th the total JCF population stood at 372

       In addition to the youth placed at juvenile correctional facilities, there are 1704 youth in
my custody as of September 12th that must be factored into any cost equation. It simply isn’t a
wise use of funds to expend 5.7 million dollars for 28 of those youth.

        Grant funding for community based core programs was also considered as a possible
target for reduction. Following 7 years of either significantly reduced or level funding, JJA was
successful in convincing the legislature to provide a $3.5 million enhancement to support these
programs as well as $1 million to use as incentive funds to encourage community support of
local juvenile justice programs. Following a number of years of poor relations between
community partners and JJA, the relations began to substantially improve 18 months ago.
Reestablishing a strong partnership with communities has led to a reduction in the number of
youth committed to juvenile correctional facilities over the past year. A reduction in community
grants in order to meet budget demands would compromise the effectiveness of community
programs and likely result in an increase in the number of youth committed to juvenile
correctional facilities.

        A number of options were discussed in an effort to meet the budget directive to the
agency. In the end the best option became suspension of operations at the Atchison Juvenile
Correctional Facility. This option would eliminate the need to substantially hinder the operations
of the remaining juvenile correctional facilities and eliminate the need to reduce community
level funding for core programs.

        In addition to reaching the budget target, during FY09 JJA will be able to transfer 10
juvenile correctional officer positions (JCO) to KJCC, as well as 4 program positions and two
licensed health service positions. The transfer of the JCO positions will assure facility security
staffing is sufficient to meet the demand of any additional population resulting from suspended
operations at Atchison. The 4 program positions will allow for a net reduction in the caseload of
KJCC program staff which provides an opportunity to enhance programming for all youth at
KJCC. The 2 licensed health care professional positions will allow for 24 hour a day 7 day a
week licensed health care professionals providing necessary services to youth. In FY10 there
will be an additional 10 JCO positions for the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility. These
added positions will allow Larned to open one more living unit in order to increase its capability
to absorb additional placements.

       December 8, 2008 was selected as the final day of operations as any later date would
have eliminated the ability of the agency to meet the reduced budget requirements for FY09.
Failing to meet those requirements in a real way would have resulted in no option other than
advancing an option that would have been disabling to all facilities and would have resulted in
the need to reduce community level funding. The significant gains over the past 18 months
would have been lost.

        FY09 SGF savings are projected to be $1.9 million. FY10 SGF savings are projected to
be $3.7 million. While attaining a more efficient use of limited funds that results in SGF savings
is important, the final decision was made based upon the best possible outcomes in serving
public safety needs and effectively meeting the needs of the youth in the system. The solution
selected and implemented meets both the test of efficiency and effectiveness. The action of the
agency assures JJA meets the expectation of holding youth accountable and to provide for public
safety in a cost effective manner.

         Apart from the clear budgetary advantages obtained by the repurposing of the Atchison
facility, I am statutorily charged with the ongoing review, evaluation and restructuring of the
programmatic mission and goals of the juvenile correctional facilities. [see K.S.A. 77-7024(m)]
The youth currently being placed into the juvenile correctional facilities are generally those
adjudicated of serious offenses with a history of offenses. These youth are better served in the
more secure and structured environment of either the Topeka or Larned facility, as opposed to
the open campus of the Atchison facility. Repurposing the Atchison facility to operate as a
YRCII will provide needed beds in a therapeutic environment for those youth with less serious
offenses who make up the majority of juveniles placed into my custody.


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