Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kultala: Juvenile correctional facilities report "disturbing"

News Release:
A report presented this morning to members of the Kansas Post Audit Committee determined that a ‘lax culture’ and ‘lack of safety and security’ had endangered inmates at one of the state’s two juvenile correctional facilities. 

The two-part post audit study was requested by Senators Kelly Kultala and Anthony Hensley this spring following concerns about the safety of juvenile offenders and correctional officers, and the adequacy of educational and vocational programs at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC).

“I’m extremely disappointed by what the audit found,” said Kultala, of Kansas City.  “This administration has had nearly two years to fix the problems at KJCC, yet problems continue to be rampant.”

The report found, in part, ‘Superintendents at the facility have turned over frequently and no management regime appears to have been able to address the reactive and lax culture in order for substantive and meaningful change to occur.

Juvenile offenders have been harmed by the lack of safety and security at KJCC, and if the facility continues to operate in the same fashion, it is almost certain that more will be harmed in the future.’ (JJA: Evaluating the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex, Part 1, p. 40)

“One of the most disturbing findings is the inadequate background check process KJCC uses to prescreen applicants,” said Kultala.  “As a result, a number of corrections officers currently working at the facility have felony or drug convictions.  Others never received sufficient or appropriate training.  These individuals are in daily contact with juveniles at the facility.” 

The Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) is one of two juvenile corrections facilities in Kansas.  Overseen by the Juvenile Justice Authority, KJCC provides maximum and medium security beds for about 200 male and 20 female juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 22. These juveniles are guarded by about 140 security officers.

“Our juvenile correctional system cannot continue to operate this way,” continued Kultala.  “As a result of the post audit report, I’m happy to see some positive changes already taking place including pay raises for entry-level juvenile correctional officers, which will bring their salaries to par with correctional officers and neighboring states.  To recruit and retain the best correctional officers, the salaries of senior juvenile officers, which still lag 22% behind nearby states, must be reviewed.   Increased staffing, annual training, management oversight, and employee retention also need to be addressed in the next year.”

Kultala will formally request a follow-up audit be conducted in September 2012.