This article discusses the implementation of Senate Bill 123 (SB 123), creating mandatory community-based drug treatment for individuals convicted of drug possession, and its impact on Kansas' criminal justice system.
SB 123 has been associated with significant changes in the sentencing of drug possessors in Kansas. Roughly 1,400 drug possessors per year now receive community-based drug treatment. Prior to the implementation of SB 123, these offenders likely would have received significantly less treatment, as well as significantly less supervision. The implementation of SB 123 diverted most of the eligible drug possessors not from prison to the community, as intended, but from one community-based program to another, from court services to community corrections. As such, SB 123 resulted in significant front-end net-widening, subjecting more offenders to greater surveillance and longer sentences. These problems appear to be due not to the circumvention of the law by justice officials, but to the structure of the law itself and to a lack of understanding of prior sentencing patterns. It is recommended that future research examine the effect of individual-level and jurisdiction-level variables on offender recidivism. In 2003, in response to the growing pressures drug possessors were placing on the prison system, the Kansas Legislature enacted SB 123, creating mandatory community-based drug treatment in lieu of incarceration for nonviolent offenders convicted of a first or second offense of simple drug possession. This article examines the impact of SB 123 on sentencing practices, supervision, and treatment services across Kansas. Figures, table, notes, and references