Opinion Columns & Blogs

Prison crowding could further marijuana reform

With Kansas prisons already out of space for inmates in state custody, Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts proposed to a legislative committee Monday that the state build a $27 million expansion of the maximum-security prison near El Dorado. But the capacity problem may interest more lawmakers in sentencing reform related to marijuana possession, as Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, suggested. His chamber is already on board, having voted 81-36 in May to lower penalties for first and second possessions of marijuana. The bill, which died in the Senate, would have saved an estimated $1.7 million through fiscal 2017 by decreasing inmate numbers. An ordinance passed in April by Wichita voters and a spring poll conducted by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University further indicate that a majority of Kansas are ready to move in that direction. – Rhonda Holman