The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) plans to rebuild the Lansing correctional facility and is considering both state financing (bonding) and contractor financing (leasing) for the project. We used a Life-Cycle Cost Model to estimate which financing option would be most cost effective. Our analysis found bond financing with contracted maintenance would likely be the most cost-effective option. These two financing options for rebuilding Lansing create some additional risks and benefits for the state, primarily related to contract terms and project costs.
Substance Abuse Programs: Evaluating Cost Savings Achieved Through Enhanced Acess to State Substance Abuse Programs
Although substance abuse can result in substantial criminal justice and social service costs, expanding treatment is unlikely to achieve significant savings. We estimated an additional 4,500 to 7,000 individuals are eligible for state-funded treatment and likely to seek it. To provide that treatment, the state would spend between $7 million and $11 million during a three-year period. However, we estimated the state would only reduce spending on other services (i.e. prison, foster care, or state hospitals) by $500,000 to $6 million for those individuals, which would not offset the cost of their treatment. Our results are significantly different from other studies which found greater savings related to providing substance abuse treatment primarily because we focused only on savings to the state and because many of the studies included savings in their estimate that we do not think would be realized.
State Agency Information Systems: Reviewing Security Controls in Selected State Agencies – Department of Corrections (CY 2015)
Overall, we identified most state agencies maintain computer systems which hold a variety of sensitive data or process payments that must be protected. Although the state is responsible for these sensitive data or payment systems, it lacks an enterprise-level approach to IT security. We also found that 17 of 45 agencies (38%) that process payments or maintain large amounts of highly sensitive data have not had an independent evaluation of their security measures in the past three years. In addition, we learned the state lacks a complete set of three-year IT Plans as required by law, and that agencies’ submitted plans have been made public despite containing sensitive security information.
We also reviewed IT security resources at 10 selected agencies. As part of that review, we found the reporting structures at seven agencies created a risk that important security issues may not be communicated to top management. Additionally, three agencies’ lead IT security positions were not filled with sufficiently qualified staff, and two agencies lacked enough staff to perform necessary IT security tasks. Lastly, IT security software products agencies reported using in five security categories appeared to be adequate except for one agency, which lacked software to back up its system databases and electronic files stored on its network since November 2013.
State Agency Information Systems: Reviewing Selected Controls in Selected State Agencies (CY 2012)
We evaluated six important IT security controls and the comprehensive IT security management process at nine state agencies. We found that most agencies’ IT security controls we reviewed were not strong enough to help ensure that confidential information was adequately protected. Moreover, most agencies had weak controls to help ensure strong and secure staff passwords, and almost all agencies did a poor job of patching software vulnerabilities for both workstations and servers. Most agencies did not adequately train staff on IT security issues, and none of the agencies had fully developed and tested a continuity of operations plan. While most agencies adequately controlled their IT inventory, four agencies were missing or had lost track of computers. On the other hand, we found only a few problems with network access points, which were largely controlled by the Office of Information Technology Services. None of the agencies had a fully developed security management process, but all nine had at least some process components. Finally, security controls were far stronger at agencies where management made IT security a priority.
Health-Care Related Services: Reviewing Opportunities for Better Coordinating the State's Health-Care Related Programs
By changing Medicaid billing practices, the State could save money spent on inpatient care for Department of Correction’s inmates. Although State agencies could also better coordinate a number of other health-care related programs, service gap issues such as lack of affordable health insurance for low-income single adults can only be addressed through State-level policy decisions. Of more importance is the upcoming federal health care reform, which will greatly affect how health-care related services are provided in Kansas. Its primary goals are to reduce the number of uninsured, slow increases in health care costs, and increase access to health care services and providers. Implementing those reforms will require significant coordination among State agencies. Some State agencies that traditionally have provided health care services will have added responsibilities, while other State agencies—such as the Kansas Insurance Department—will start having a role. At this point, it is too early to know whether State agencies are on track to implement the various provisions of federal health care reform.
Department of Corrections: Reviewing Allegations of Staff Misconduct
Over the last few years, there have been three highly publicized incidents occurring at the Lansing, El Dorado, and Topeka Correctional Facilities. Two of these incidents involved inmate escapes with the help of individuals associated with the correctional facilities. The third incident involved a female inmate getting pregnant after having sexual relations with a correctional employee. These three cases had red flags that facility officials should have recognized and acted upon, which could have prevented each of those incidents. At both Lansing and El Dorado Correctional Facilities, staff failed to follow policies and procedures in place at the time of those incidents. However, the facilities and the Department of Corrections have taken steps to reduce the likelihood such incidents will happen in the future. At Topeka Correctional Facility, a variety of reasons made conditions ripe for staff sexual misconduct in this situation, including a lack of controls over staff and inmate whereabouts. While Topeka Correctional Facility has made some changes, more steps need to be taken to address these particular concerns and to address other systemic problems we noted at the Facility. Data show 197 investigations of facility staff for allegations of sexual misconduct, undue familiarity and trafficking in contraband at these three facilities over five years. When we compared the three facilities’ investigations into these areas, we noted the following: Topeka had significantly more investigations per 100 employees than the other two facilities; Topeka had 58% of its investigations centered on sexual misconduct compared with 9% and 16% at El Dorado and Lansing respectively, and Topeka officials only substantiated about 28% of the investigations, compared with 78% and 76% at the other two facilities. For those cases that were substantiated, the punishment imposed for Topeka cases appeared to be more inconsistent and lenient, especially for undue familiarity. We noted additional areas of concern, including the fact that statutory penalties in Kansas for staff sexual misconduct aren’t as severe as in other states and are even less severe than those for staff trafficking in contraband. Further, we found the Department lacks sufficient management information to ensure that officials are aware of the level of staff misconduct.
Adult Correctional Agencies: Determining Whether Functions Could Be Combined To Gain Cost Efficiencies
From an efficiency standpoint, we found no benefit to merging the 3-member Parole Board into the Department of Corrections. Board members already are co-located with the Department, the two agencies share a conference room, and Department employees provide both the direct and indirect administrative support Board members need. Merging the Sentencing Commission staff function into the Department of Corrections would save about $152,000 a year ($760,000 over five years) by eliminating duplicate administrative functions—including agency management, payroll, IT support, and the like—and the staff positions and other costs associated with them. That represents about 20% of the Commission’s current annual operating costs. If only the administrative functions of the Commission's staff were merged into the Department, and not research functions, the savings would be reduced to about $48,000 a year. Commission staff raised a number of concerns related to merging their functions within the Department, but we think those concerns can be reasonably addressed. Further, many other states perform these functions through a correctional agency.
Health-Care Related Programs in Kansas: Determining What Funding Kansas Receives and Who Administers It
Our inventory focused on three types of government-funded health-care related programs in Kansas--State administered, federally administered, and research--and on programs that were clearly medical in nature or related to substance abuse and mental health. Health-care related programs administered by seven State agencies accounted for about $2.5 billion of the nearly $6 billion in spending we identified for 2006, including $1.6 billion on health care programs and $.8 billion on long-term care. Federally administered health-care related programs accounted for $3.3 billion in spending, nearly all of which was for Medicare. Health-care related research spending totaled about $131 million, with most of that being spent by the University of Kansas.
Compliance and Control Audit: Department of Corrections
Actual cost figures for death penalty and non-death penalty cases in Kansas don't exist. Considering all costs through execution or the end of imprisonment, we estimate the median death penalty case that has gone to trial so far in Kansas would cost an estimated $1.2 million, or about 60% more than the estimated cost of the median case in a small sample of non-death penalty cases used for comparison. The trial stage accounts for nearly $475,000 of the higher projected costs, and the appeal-related stages accounts for another $382,000. Death penalty trial costs tend to be higher because the trials are lengthier, a separate trial is held for sentencing, more jurors are called, and there's generally a greater use of expensive expert witnesses. Appeal costs are higher because, with the defendant's life at stake, there tend to be more appeals and more issues raised each time an appeal is made. Because much of the process involved in trying a death penalty case is prescribed by law or the U.S. Supreme Court, we found little variation between Kansas and a sample of other states, and no real opportunity for eliminating steps in the process. Opportunities to save costs need to be focused on other areas, such as providing for a true life sentence without the possibility of parole to possibly reduce the number of appeals, possibly creating a specialized group of judges or law clerks who may be able to more efficiently handle death penalty cases because of research and expertise, and ensuring that the State Board of Indigents' Defense Services can handle as many death penalty cases as possible rather than hiring contract attorneys at much higher cost.
Compliance and Control Audit: Correctional Facilities
Lansing Correctional Facility spent about $1 million on overtime in fiscal year 2000, about 40% of which officials consider to be excess overtime caused by a high number of vacancies. Prison officials said they've had a hard time filling vacant corrections officer positions because of low salaries. If all the money spent on excess overtime could have been spent instead on increasing base salaries to attract new officers, those salaries could have been raised by an average of about $800 to $900 per position. That increase would be far less if the salaries to fill any vacant positions were paid out of these same excess overtime moneys. Even if all the excess moneys were used together with the 7.5% raise in starting salaries that occurred in February 2001 when the bottom steps of the State pay plan were eliminated, starting salaries would still be 1.6% to 7.3% below what competing employers currently are paying for similar positions. If such a salary increase weren't enough to help fill vacant positions, Lansing could be faced with even higher overtime costs, because it still would need employees to work a lot of excess overtime, and that overtime would be based on higher salaries.
State-Held-Lands: Reviewing the Management and Use of Those Lands in Kansas
Kansas lacked a good centralized system for inventorying and managing State-owned and leased land. Through direct surveys of all State agencies we learned that they owned more than 335,600 acres and leased another 256,000 acres for State use. Most of that land was used for highway right-of-way and for parks and wildlife habitat. About 4,800 acres worth $6.9 million was potentially surplus. Nothing would prevent the State from selling this land, but conditions, like toxic waste on some parcels, may make it difficult to sell. State agencies will continue to have little incentive to identify surplus lands, despite a new law requiring that guidelines and criteria for identifying and selling surplus land be put into place. The new law didn't set up an independent authority to make the decision about whether potentially surplus land should be sold, and it lacked a financial incentive for agencies to sell land. When agencies lease out State-owned land, they usually do it on a competitive-bid basis; only 4 agencies weren't using competitive bids to let their leases or didn't rebid the leases frequently enough. Finally, we found a few cases where agencies weren't paying property taxes on land when they should have been, and at least one case where an agency was paying taxes it shouldn't have been paying.
A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections, Part II: Assessing the Department’s Procedures for Dealing with Parole Violators
Kansas' parolee supervision and sanctioning procedures compare favorably to other states we reviewed, but only a few other states have detailed written criteria parole officers are to follow when issuing sanctions for parole violators. Lack of comparison data about parolees' criminal activity in other states makes it difficult to know whether Kansas' grid adequately protects the public, but half of the parole officers we surveyed thought it wasn't adequate. They told us more behaviors need to be considered violations, and sanctions need to be stricter. During a recent eight-month period, we found that few of the parole officers had completed all the routine supervision tasks that would help them to know if parolees were committing violations. However, when they did find violations, parole officers followed the sanctioning criteria about 82% of the time. In the 18% of the cases where officers didn't follow the criteria, they tended to be more lenient than allowed. When we reviewed cases involving parolees charged with committing serious crimes, we found that the sanctioning criteria wasn't followed as often as in the other random cases. In addition to supervision and sanctioning shortcomings in these serious cases, we also found communication problems.
A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections, Part I: Assessing Staff Safety and Salary Issues
To deal with staff shortages, the prison facilities use relief staff, leave less-critical posts vacant (a plan called operational staffing), and rely on overtime. The medium- and minimum-security units at Lansing Correctional Facility are frequently operated at staffing levels that could compromise staff safety, and officials there often don't follow their operational staffing plan. In at least one case, an employee was seriously attacked while left alone because of staff shortages. Corrections officers have expressed general concerns about their safety. Other Kansas correctional facilities may be experiencing the same types of problems. Low salary levels have contributed to staffing shortages. Kansas corrections officer salaries were 11 % to 15% below salaries paid by other similar entities. Kansas also had one of the highest turnover rates in the five-state region over the past five years. A significant number of officers who've left the system cited low salaries as a reason for leaving, and many more say they've considered leaving for that reason. Inability to recruit staff to fill positions has worsened staff shortages, tripled overtime costs, and increased the burden on existing staff. Finally, although most officers say they have the type of communications equipment they need, and that it generally works, some specific problems mentioned include untimely equipment repair, some old and outdated equipment, and "dead spots" where communications signals won't penetrate.
Reviewing Reasons for Recent Increases In the Number of Former Inmates Returned to Kansas Prisons
After several years of increase, the number of parole violators being returned to prison declined during fiscal years 1995 and 1996 before beginning to increase in fiscal year 1997. About 90% of the increase in the number of parole violators being returned to prison in fiscal year 1997 can be attributed to slightly higher revocation rates, and most of the remaining increase is due to having more people on parole. It didn’t appear to us that parole violators were being returned to prison for less-serious reasons during fiscal year 1997. More than half the parole violators in the sample we reviewed were returned to prison only after the Department had imposed special conditions or sanctions for previous violations of their parole. We didn’t see any noteworthy differences between this group and the other cases in our sample where no sanctions were imposed before parole was revoked. Both groups had violated three or more conditions of their parole at the time they were returned to prison. Another group of parole violators in our sample committed violations such as possessing a weapon, testing positive for PCP, or evading or eluding an officer, which required the parole officer to automatically recommend parole revocation. Community corrections was used as an alternative sanction in more than one-fourth of the cases we reviewed. However, services available from community corrections were limited and may not have been a suitable alternative when a return to prison was the only thing that would stop someone from violating the conditions of his or her parole.
Reviewing State Agencies’ Use of Cost Savings From the Kansas Quality Program (100-hour audit)
The Legislature first enacted the Kansas Quality Program in 1994, which allowed participating agencies to give employees cash and non-cash awards for improving State operations through specific quality initiatives. A second program was started the following year, which allowed agencies participating in the first program to keep half the money they were appropriated but didn’t spend. Agencies have retained about $5.3 million that they didn’t spend in fiscal years 1995 and 1996. Most of their purchases with those moneys have been for capital outlay items, such as computers or parole office automation technology. In fiscal year 1997 five agencies spent $38,000 for employee bonuses. Most of the expenditures we reviewed were appropriate; however, bonuses paid by two agencies didn’t meet the program requirements, and one of those agencies exceeded the $1,000 limit established by the Legislature. The Governor proposes expanding the program to all agencies and eliminating any tie to the original Kansas Quality Program. Positive aspects to this proposal include increased spending flexibility for agencies and less incentive to spend all moneys at year-end. Examples of risks include possible overbudgeting, the potential for cutting back on needed services to generate savings, and less up-front accountability for expenditures.
Reviewing State Contracting for Consultants and Other Professional and Technical Services
In fiscal year 1995, the State spent about $221 million on contracted professional services--an increase of 56% from fiscal year 1991. Nine agencies accounted for 75% of recent spending on professional services. We found that Kansas has no written procedures on acquiring professional services, and no policies to guide State agencies on monitoring contracts or on handling problems with vendors’ performance. In the absence of centralized guidance, there’s a significant risk agencies won’t get the services they need, or will pay too much for the services they get. Lastly, while many agencies say they assess the need for the programs and services they offer, we found those assessments often aren’t systematic or designed specifically to determine whether these activities should be continued. Many agencies also say they assess whether the programs and services they offer could be provided more cost effectively by contracting with private entities, but we found those assessments often don’t include all costs. Some privatization efforts currently under way may increase State costs.
Reviewing the Implementation of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act
Through September 1994, 1,629 inmates had been released early through the retroactivity provisions of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act. The Department made some errors in converting inmates’ sentences, a few of which affected inmates’ release dates. Inmates released under retroactivity did not commit any more crimes after they were released than a similar group of inmates released on parole. Sentencing guidelines have decreased sentence length for some more serious crimes, and increased sentence length for some less serious crimes. In three areas--repeat property offenses, certain sex crimes, and certain drug crimes--many people question whether the sentences are proportional to the crime. Guidelines sentences are more uniform, but departures can reduce the degree of uniformity. A number of problems exist with the implementation of sentencing guidelines, including problems relating to technical parole violators, increases in the number of trials, incomplete criminal history records, and incomplete and inaccurate information provided to the Sentencing Commission.
Food Service Operations at Correctional Facilities
The State spent about $5.85 million to obtain food for correctional facilities in fiscal year 1989. The facilities that were open all year spent an average of 95¢ per meal to purchase food. Most of the food is purchased from State sources--either from State contracts or from Kansas Correctional Industries’ meat processing plant. The audit report recommends that the Department establish a Statewide policy on how meals are to be counted, so that costs can be reported consistently. The report also makes numerous recommendations for the Department and its facilities to hold down the costs of food service operations. Our recommendations to the Department include establishing Statewide food-management policies and procedures, standardizing menus for all Department facilities, considering consolidated purchasing and warehousing, reviewing staffing levels and supervision of inmate food service workers, and ensuring that weaknesses are addressed at the facilities we visited.
Review of an Escape at Stockton Correctional Facility
We found that facility administrators followed the rules and regulations governing their decision whether to place the inmate in administrative segregation, and the basis of their decision to keep him on the premises appears to have been reasonable, based on the documented information available at the time. A lack of communication within the facility meant that important information about the inmate's behavior was not available to facility administrators when they decided to not place the inmate in administrative segregation.
Reviewing the Usefulness of State Reception and Diagnostic Center Evaluations
Users indicate that the Center’s evaluations are useful, but that the recommendations cannot always be followed because of overcrowding in treatment programs. The Center’s evaluations contain some of the same information as the courts’ pre-sentence investigations, but they often provide additional information that users say they need. Moving the evaluation function to the Penitentiary and Reformatory would not be more cost-effective because evaluation costs would be shifted to those facilities and the Diagnostic Center would still be operated as a small prison with high costs. Finally, the Department has not established procedures to ensure that evaluations of men and women are substantially equal.
A September 1986 inquiry, in which Ombudsman personnel attempted to corroborate allegations against the Director of the El Dorado Honor Camp, did not exceed the Office’s statutory authority. However, some of the investigative techniques used may have been inappropriate.
Job Training Programs in Kansas, Part II: Longer-Term Results For Program Participants
The audit shows that the Work Incentive Training program increased the likelihood that successful clients would be working, but it did not improve the wages of those who were employed. Clients who successfully completed the Job Training Partnership Act program were more likely to be employed two years later than individuals who did not successfully complete the program, and they also earned higher wages. Parolees who completed vocational training while they were in prison were no more likely to be employed after two years, and their wages were no higher. And companies that received assistance from the Kansas Industrial Training program were well pleased with its results. Changes can be made to improve the occupational information available to agencies that provide training, and to improve the quality of information those agencies gather to evaluate program results.
Examining Prison Population Growth and Its Impact on Inmate Housing and Programs
Recent population increases have been caused by more parole and probation violators being returned to prison and fewer paroles being granted. The Parole Board’s policy requiring unanimous votes to release class A and B felons has little impact on overcrowding. More treatment programs and more minimum- and medium-security bedspaces are needed.
The State’s three major training programs are well coordinated, but the audit raises administrative concerns about each one. The Job Training Partnership Act, which primarily serves economically disadvantaged people or those who have other barriers to employment, is being administered in compliance with federal requirements. But funding inmate programs with Job Training Partnership Act funds may create a potential liability for the State if the Department of Labor disallows the expenditure of those funds for inmates who are not released within a reasonable period of time.
Personnel Policies and Practices at Kansas State Penitentiary
The Penitentiary’s written policies and most of the 210 personnel actions reviewed complied with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and requirements. The Penitentiary failed to fully comply in several areas. Many employees surveyed said that morale was low. They cited poor communication, understaffing, and perceived favoritism in promotion and job assignments.
Using Inmate Labor for Construction and Remodeling Projects
Using inmate labor for construction and remodeling projects saved 40-45 percent of the projects’ estimated cost. Despite limitations to using inmate labor outside correctional facilities, the audit identifies several planned State projects where the use of inmate labor might be practical.
In fiscal year 1984, State agenices could have purchased an additional $54,000 worth of paint products and $359,000 worth of soap products from prison factories. Local units of government also offer a huge potential market. The audit presents several options for expanding and encouraging sales.
Poorly maintained clinical records made health care needs difficult to assess. This audit suggests ways to provide more effective and lower-cost health care services. Decisions on further actions may need to wait on improved information.
Prison populations are over the Department’s stated maximum. If population forecasts are accurate, current building and renovating efforts will provide little long-term relief. The prisons have the space to hold more inmates, but small cells, sanitary restrictions, and security and safety reasons often preclude further crowding.
Pre-Release Centers Operated By the Department of Corrections
The department placed 352 inmates in the Topeka and Winfield pre-release centers during fiscal year 1984. Among other findings, the report shows that one inmate in six had not been officially classified as minimum custody prior to placement. Actions are recommended to correct the problems.
Examining Potential Duplication Between Community Corrections and District Court Probation Services
Department of Corrections’ regulations help minimize duplication programs and services. There was no evidence to suggest that a significant number of individuals in community corrections would otherwise have been placed on regular probation. Counties appear to be using community correction funds primarily to provide or enhance corrections programs for D and E felons who otherwise would have been sent to prison.
The number of inmate property claims could be minimized if the Department of Corrections closely adhered to established procedures for controlling property, consistently followed standard investigation procedures, and approved all valid claims internally.
Prison populations are increasing sharply because of increased admissions, longer sentences, and fewer paroles. New bed space will be filled quickly if those population trends continue. Some buildings have space that could be converted to house inmates and help alleviate overcrowding, but not in the near future. Local jails and community corrections also have potential, but each has its limitations.
About one-third of all minimum-custody inmates now live in maximum-security cell-houses. Some of these inmates may not be ready for placement in less secure settings, but the Department of Corrections says there are enough to fill current and proposed minimum-security facilities.
Correctional Industries and Inmate Rehabilitation at the State Penitentiary
More than half of the inmates at the Penitentiary have no job. There is also little relationship between working experience in the Penitentiary and success on parole. A number of problems in the work programs need to be corrected.
Audit of Selected Funds at Kansas State Penitentiary
The purpose of the audit was to answer several legislative questions regarding the use of Inmate Benefit Funds to provide matching moneys in obtaining an outside grant for constructing a cable television system at the prison, the need for additional moneys to complete the project, and the status of construction work on the project.
Housing and Other Maintenance Support Provided to State Employees
The purpose of this audit represents the status of individual agencies as to their arrangements for providing employee maintenance. To obtain an analysis of the varying procedures among agencies and to then submit recommendations for updating and standardizing procedures on a state-wide basis. The primary focus will be given to family-type housing maintenance as this is the most significant area of maintenance in terms of varying procedures and cost factors involved. Observations concerning dormitory housing and food service support will also be included in this audit.