criminal justice | KCUR

criminal justice

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas’ prisons and many of its county jails have suspended in-person visits indefinitely to keep down the risk of coronavirus spreading among inmates. The only exception is lawyers, who will be allowed to visit their clients.

Correctional facilities’ close quarters and lower health care quality means there’s a higher likelihood of COVID-19 virus spreading, though state and county facilities say they are doing what they can to keep things clean — asking for frequent hand washing, wiping down transport vehicles and phones and frequently scrubbing prison dining halls and gathering spaces.

Chris Neal / Shooter Imaging

TOPEKA, Kansas — The state lost 13% of its public defenders over the past year.

That’s actually an improvement. Nearly a fourth of the state’s public defenders quit the year before.

But the turnover of those attorneys still represents a chronic problem for the State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services, the agency that provides lawyers to criminal defendants who can’t afford their own.

Maban Wright makes $66,000 as one of those public defenders, up from the $43,000 she earned at the agency 10 years ago.

Segment 1: A career change introduced one man to the hidden flaws of the American justice system.

Jason Hardy's time as a parole and probation officer in Louisiana revealed a system that makes a prisoner's re-entry into society difficult. Today, he describes the misinterpreted freedom of being released from incarceration and the unfavorable working conditions for officers.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — From 2000 to 2019, the women’s prison population in Kansas rose by 60%. Over the same time period, the men’s population rose by only 14%.

That outpaces national trends over the past two decades, according to a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Kansas News Service file photo

TOPEKA, Kansas — The same kids who end up in trouble with the law often come from families in disarray.

Those families, in turn, regularly turn to the state for food assistance, foster care or mental health care.

Segment 1: Previewing 2020's public safety stories

Kansas City has been staring down a violent crime problem for years and officials at both the state and federal levels are primed to implement a myriad of solutions. But KCUR reporters said it could be months before we see any results.

  • Chris Haxel, Guns and America reporter at KCUR
  • Sam Zeff, metro reporter at KCUR

Segment 2, beginning at 25:56: Where fast food and black entrepreneuership meet

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — One solution to Kansas prisons’ woes could come with a $35 million price tag for three new specialty prisons.

The state’s corrections system only treats half of its inmates who struggle with substance abuse. And as some people serve decades-long sentences, the system finds itself home to more elderly prisoners who need special care as they age.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Holes punched in walls. Car headlights smashed. Windows broken. Weapons, threats, sexual comments. Children who can’t live with other children. Children whom foster parents won’t take in. Children who aren’t able to get the mental health care they desperately need.

Kansas foster care contractors and parents say all of these situations have become more common — and more risky — since 2017, when the state made sweeping changes to the juvenile justice system. The changes, they say, removed options for dealing with foster children who have high needs and violent behaviors.

Segment 1: 2019 report shows black Kansas Citians are still separate and unequal.

By comparing things like poverty and homeownership rates by race, a report from the Urban League of Greater Kansas City found black people are only 73% as equal as whites in Kansas City. The report is released every few years, and is used to educate community members and elected oficials about progress in economics, education and social justice. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Black residents of Kansas City are still "separate and unequal," according to the latest report from the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

The 2019 State of Black Kansas City, from the Urban League in collaboration with local law, policy, health and education experts, measures the racial gap in areas such as economics, criminal justice and education. Based on statistical analyses of factors such as the median net worth for black versus white households and the rate of homeownership, the report found the equality index for black Kansas Citians is only 73% of their white counterparts.

Segment 1: Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court is working to improve the judicial experience.

Kansas City's Municipal Court is participating in a pilot project to improve trust between courts and the communities they serve. Through dialogue sessions, it hopes to tackle problems like its high failure-to-appear rate. Because citizens often face confusion and intimidation within the judicial system, personnel "want to demystify the courts," Benita Jones, the court's public information officer  said. 

Segment 1: Some survivors of sex trafficking in Kansas recieve prison sentences rather than support.

Segment 1: Two men formed an unlikely friendship through a shared tragedy.

Tariq Khamisa was a 20-year-old college student delivering a pizza in 1995 when he was shot and killed by 14-year-old Tony Hicks. Azim Khamisa said he reached out to Ples Felix, the grandfather of his son's murderer, because he saw "victims at both ends of the gun." They became friends and work together in addressing gun violence through The Forgiveness Project.

Segment 1: Germany's prisons emphasize rehabilitation and resocialization for their inmates.

Germany is doing a lot of things differently than the U.S. when it comes to criminal justice, and they've got a lower inceration rate to show for it. In prisons there, staff are trained in things like psychology and communication, and they're paid just as much as police officers. This is all to promote a reintegration approach, which focuses on returning inmates back into their communities. 

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

On Friday, when Jerry Bausby got two life sentences for the sexual assault and murder of his 18-year-old daughter, it was the culmination of three years of work for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Daizsa Bausby was a star student at the now-closed Southwest High School. She was a rule-follower and a go-getter with big dreams. But just a couple of months before her graduation, her body was found in a Kansas City motel room, dressed as though by someone else, according to examiners, who also concluded that she'd been sodomized and suffocated.

Jean Peters Baker

Sep 19, 2019

Jean Peters Baker has been the Jackson County Prosecutor since 2011, and she's often in the news, but usually talking about everything but herself. Today we learn about her personal life experience and how it's shaped her indignation in the courtroom and beyond. Plus, insights into her political aspirations and the future of the Democratic Party in Missouri.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — One of the United States’ largest and oldest private prison companies will house up to 600 Kansas inmates in a facility in Eloy, Arizona.

CoreCivic, formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America, owns and operates 129 prisons, immigration detention centers and other facilities in more than 20 states, including the Leavenworth Detention Center. Its revenues total more than $1 billion a year.

Anonymous

Just over a week after her old boss was convicted of battery against her, Maddie Waldeck is suing the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, where they both worked.

Waldeck, who no longer works for the UG, told KCUR the two years she worked with Dennis "Tib" Laughlin were the "most stressful and heartbreaking of her professional life."

The lawsuit says Laughlin, who was a high-ranking official of the UG, engaged in "a pattern and practice of gender discrimination, harassment and retaliation."

Anonymous

A Wyandotte County jury found a high-ranking official of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, guilty of misdemeanor battery against a female employee Tuesday.

Maddie Waldeck, a former Unified Government employee, said on May 1 last year that she was having a "light-hearted" conversation with colleagues after work when her boss, Dennis "Tib" Laughlin, grabbed her by the shirt and pushed her against a wall.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Maddie Waldeck’s family has been entwined with the city of Kansas City, Kansas, for six decades. 

Her grandfather was an assistant fire chief and her dad spent 35 years at the Board of Public Utilities. Both of her brothers work for the city and her sister-in-law is a deputy police chief. 

So when Waldeck got a job at the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, in 2013, she was over the moon.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA― Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss announced Friday he’ll retire in mid-December after serving on the state’s highest court since 2002, when Republican Gov. Bill Graves tapped him for the role.

That makes the second retirement announcement from the court in less than a month. Justice Lee Johnson will retire in September. He was appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007.

Office of Missouri Governor

Before Kenneth Wilson became a Missouri House member, he worked his way up the ranks in the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. It was there, he said, his view of crime went from “bad guys go to jail” to seeing dads lose their jobs because they were jailed for not being able to pay child support.

And that’s when Wilson, a Republican from Smithville, thought there must be another way. 

The Jackson County Detention Center has been a contentious topic in city and county politics, with a lot of the public debate focused on questions of funding and space. But conditions for inmates, most of whom are awaiting trial, continue to be concerning for those who know the facility.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — They’re here in Kansas. CBD products with a bit of that oh-so-taboo THC in them. To vape, to put under your tongue.

Some retailers argue those products became legal on July 1 because of tweaks to state regulation of cannabis-related substances in a bill supporting the state’s fledgling industrial hemp program.

Bigstock

Criminal justice advocates in Missouri hope that new statewide rules will keep poor defendants out of jail because they can’t afford bail.

But one Kansas City public defender is concerned that poor defendants will have to stay behind bars before trial due to the cost of electronic monitoring devices.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Wyandotte Country District Attorney Mark Dupree is on the lookout for folks with criminal records. He wants to talk with them about the possibility of wiping clean that history and giving them a new chance.

Starting on Wednesday and continuing every Wednesday until August 14, his office is hosting expungement fairs at Kansas City Kansas Community College Technical Education Center as part of an effort to be what Dupree calls "smart on crime."

Segment 1: Mark Dupree wants to make the Unified Government's justice system more equitable.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree talked with us about the summer expungement program, a new conviction integrity unit and the prosecution of Lamonte McIntyre, and calls from community members to fire Police Chief Terry Ziegler. It all fits into his larger effort to correct past wrongs in his jurisdiction.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

“A Clockwork Orange.” “Invisible Man.” “Twelve Years a Slave.” 

Issues of Bloomberg Businessweek, Us Weekly, Elle.

“Excel 2016 for Dummies.” “Tarot Fundamentals.” “Electrical Theory.”

Over the past 15 years, the Kansas Department of Corrections banned those titles, and about 7,000 others, from its prisons across the state.

Creative Commons-CC0

The state spending review panel is freeing up some of the money the Kansas Department of Corrections asked for to place inmates in county jails and private facilities. Prison officials say it’s a last resort.

Katie Moore / Kansas City Star

This story has been updated and clarified with quotes from Presiding Judge David Byrn from the court transcript.

New security measures at the Jackson County Detention Center are causing some controversy after female attorneys complained they are required to remove their underwire bras in order to enter. 

In a tweet Monday, Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté called this "misinformation," saying that "no one was asked to take off underwire bras."

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