you make the case

Prosecutors could end mass incarceration in Kansas - today

They have the tools to fix our broken criminal justice system. They’re just not using them.

You Make the Case is a criminal justice reform campaign led by the ACLU of Kansas to build safer & stronger communities.

How? By educating voters to urge their county prosecutors to seek alternatives to mass incarceration. Prosecutors make cases all day long, but now it's time for you to make the case for smarter solutions.

The criminal justice system in Kansas is broken.

Although the crime rate in Kansas has consistently declined over the past four decades, the prison population has quadrupled. Today, nearly 10,000 Kansans, many struggling with mental health or substance abuse, sit behind bars at an annual cost of $229 million. 

Local prosecutors make the choice alone.

The prosecutor uses his or her discretion to file charges and seek sentences that condemn offenders to a prison sentence that can have lifelong consequences, far outweighing the severity of the crime. However, many voters don’t realize that a single elected official holds most of the responsibility for this profoundly important decision.

  • Local prosecutors represent the state
    their client is the community.
  • There are 100 local prosecutors in Kansas
    one for each county.
  • Prosecutors can make decisions
    without consulting anyone.

There are better ways to address crime.

Local prosecutors wield enormous power to shape their communities. By rejecting mass incarceration, prosecutors can strengthen families and make their communities safer. They have a number of smart justice tools at their disposal. Too many just refuse to use them.

Diversion can help fix our broken system.

Local prosecutors can choose diversion - a smart justice policy that saves money, while preventing overcrowding in jails and prisons. Diversion allows individuals the opportunity to learn from their mistakes so they can become productive law-abiding members of the community. Diversion makes good use of taxpayer dollars by connecting low-level offenders to the tools they need to avoid reoffending, greatly reducing the rate of recidivism.

  • Each person who receives diversion
    saves taxpayers $9,118 per year.
  • More frequent diversion could
    save nearly $9 million per year.
  • More frequent diversion could
    reduce the prison population by 10% per year.

Apply your knowledge to a real scenario.

"A woman has shoplifted diapers and formula from a grocery store for her newborn baby. She has a criminal history of petty thefts for which she has previously received probation. What would you do?"
Diversion or Incarceration?
See The Difference
Diversion
By serving an alternative sentence, the mother is able to remain out of jail and raise her child. She is able to give back to her community in a meaningful way and seek guidance that will empower her to avoid making poor decisions in the future.
Incarceration
The woman is sent to jail, forcing her baby to be placed with another family member or in foster care. After her release, the woman is left with limited resources and a criminal record that makes it difficult to find gainful employment or safe housing.

Apply your knowledge to a real scenario.

"A 19-year-old is arrested for armed robbery of a clothing store with a knife. This is the teenager’s first offense. What would you do?"
Diversion or Incarceration?
See The Difference
Diversion
Alternatives to incarceration, such as a diversion program, give young people a chance to learn from their mistakes, reduce the likelihood that the individual will offend again, and strengthen the individual’s opportunity for success later in life.  In addition, putting someone through a diversion program costs significantly less than sending someone to jail.
Incarceration
This young person is released from prison with a felony record, making it difficult to get a job, apply for student loans, or receive housing assistance.  Collateral consequences such as these ruin lives and greatly increase the likelihood that the young person commits future crimes due to lack of opportunity.

Apply your knowledge to a real scenario.

"A 26-year-old female is arrested for stealing her roommate’s credit card and charging $1,000 in designer shoes and clothing.  She has a previous charge for shoplifting as a minor.  What would you do?"
Diversion or Incarceration?
See The Difference
Diversion
Although this woman had a delinquency as a minor, she has not had any offenses as an adult.  Diversion gives her a second chance to learn from her mistakes, reduces the likelihood she will reoffend, and increases her opportunities to achieve long-term success.
Incarceration
Upon her release from prison, the woman’s felony record makes it difficult to get a job, receive housing assistance or obtain a loan.  Collateral consequences such as these ruin lives and greatly increase the chance that the woman will commit future crimes due to lack of opportunity.

Apply your knowledge to a real scenario.

"A 34-year-old man is arrested for stealing a car and selling it to support his heroin addiction.  The car was recovered and returned to the owner. He has been arrested a few times for possession, but this is his most serious offense to date. What would you do?"
Diversion or Incarceration?
See The Difference
Diversion
Substance addiction can ruin people’s lives and leave them with no other option than to turn to crime to support their addiction. Helping them get the treatment they need rather than locking them up is the best way to increase the likelihood they will be able to live a healthy and productive life.
Incarceration
When this man is released from jail or prison, his felony record makes it very difficult to get a job, receive housing assistance, or apply for a loan.  In addition, his heroin addiction remains untreated—and was mostly likely worsened during his incarceration.

Over 90% of Kansans already believe that prosecutors should use diversion more often.

Unfortunately, many are not sure how to express their views. It’s up to you to reach out to your prosecutor – it’s time for you to Make The Case!
meet your prosecutor

Looking for more information?

Local prosecutors wield enormous power to shape their communities.

Power of a Prosecutor

Smart criminal justice policies can strengthen families and make communities stronger.

Sensible Solutions