A Kansas City Commission is arguing for creative reforms to reduce crime, save taxpayers money without jailing defendants and putting people’s housing and jobs at risk by locking them up, Josh Merchant reports for the Missouri Independent. The Alternatives to Incarceration Commission’s efforts come at the same time that Kansas City is exploring constructing a new municipal jail, despite already spending millions of dollars every year to hold people while they await trial.
In June, the Kansas City Council voted to form the Alternatives to Incarceration Commission to explore alternatives that can spare more people from the criminal justice system and steer them toward social services. The commission’s general recommendations thus far include: deflection programs focused on keeping people out of the criminal justice system, diversion programs that connect people with addiction treatment and help finding housing or job training, rather than jail time, and recidivism reduction to help people expunge their municipal records and make sure that they are able to find housing once they’ve been released. The commission is due to file a recommendation to the City Council in time for the budget planning process in spring, 2024.