- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would overhaul the state’s juvenile justice system.

The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1SlABvb ) reports that the bill was created to shift the juvenile justice system away from incarceration and use some of the cost savings to boost community-based programs that help young offenders.

The bill is expected to save Kansas about $72 million over five years. It also replaces juvenile jail with programs that to try to cure problems such as inappropriate sexual behavior or substance abuse.

The final bill was a result of months of legislative analysis, debate and research.

Republican state Rep. John Rubin of Shawnee led the path for the reform, but almost quit the Legislature last week when he was fired as chairman of the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee over an unrelated floor argument.

Rubin said that juvenile offenders “will have better lives, better opportunities and a better chance to succeed as adults because of the work we together have done on this bill,” Rubin said. “And all Kansans will have better lives because this bill will, without doubt, enhance and improve public safety.”

The bill, a major piece of legislation strongly supported by both political sides, was a rare exception in the extremely partisan atmosphere that has reigned in the Legislature for years.

“It was a difficult task to start with,” said Sen. Dan Kerschen, R-Garden Plain. “But everyone was pretty consistent that (the final bill) was a good one and that we’re going in the right direction.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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