logo for the League of Women Voters of Wichita-Metro

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, promotes political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government, and takes action on selected governmental issues. The League does not support or oppose any political party or candidate.


WICHITA-METRO AREA LEAGUE POSITIONS ON PUBLIC POLICY IN BRIEF

SOCIAL POLICY

Education — Support the provision of quality education for all students by offering basic uniformity in grade school curriculum: it should be taught in diverse ways in order to address differing student abilities. At the secondary level, there should be required courses in Liberal Arts with a variety of electives including those in Vocational Education. There should be standards and accountability for all publicly funded education + including on-line, charter and home school. —

Human Resources — Support the preservation of the Human Resources Board. Food, shelter and health services should be made available to low-income groups.

Health — Support the maintenance of services provided by the Health Department. Support HIV antibody testing for marriage license applicants and convicted sex crime offenders and the notification of sex partners of persons who test positive.

Quality of Life — Support the development of an integrated system to coordinate and prioritize street maintenance. Support the implementation of a formal policy and procedure to address changes in the Capital Improvements Plan. Oppose cuts in basic city/county services. Support the current library board system with financial support expected from Sedgwick County Government on an annual basis.

Transportation — Support the implementation of a Rapid Transit System, within the metropolitan urban area of the City of Wichita, which would provide increased availability of public transportation for all the citizens of the area, at an affordable cost.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Energy — Support the most efficient use of all forms of energy.

Air Quality — Support continuous local outdoor air quality monitoring and also periodic inventories to determine current sources of outdoor air pollution. Local governments bear responsibility to inform and educate the public about air pollution in our area and should budget for both gathering air quality data and informing the public. Support government policies and actions which encourage citizens, industries, businesses and governments to reduce emissions voluntarily.

Solid Waste Disposal — Support a comprehensive solid waste management system to be implemented in Wichita as soon as possible. Support solid waste conversion to help solve the energy problem and eliminate the need for ever-increasing land-fill sites.

Downtown Redevelopment — Support the revitalization of Downtown Wichita and the use of tax increment financing and IRBs to facilitate such development.

Sustainable Community Development — “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Land Use — Promote a zoning process that balances the residential, commercial and industrial uses of land in Wichita. The city should actively shape the direction of future growth. There is a need for a new or revised zoning ordinance for the city of Wichita

GOVERNMENT

Format — Support the Council/Manager form with the council members elected at large on a non-partisan ballot. Oppose district elections for USD 259 Board of Education members. Support permanent citizen district advisory boards given city councilpersons are elected by district.

County — Support greater citizen participation in County Government

City/County — Support the cooperation of city and county government through joint funding of consolidated governments and through joint appointments to advisory boards. Support the concept of WI/SE and Plan 2000.


Concurrence Criminal Justice position LWV Kansas

(edited November 30, 2020)

Criminal Justice position proposed revision
Edit date: November 30, 2020

BACKGROUND:

At State Council in April 1972, the statement of position from the Adult Corrections study was approved. An update of that position was requested by the State Board in June 1973 enabling the League to respond to state priorities. The updated position was completed in December 1976. In legislation supported by the LWVUS, Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, which did not pass, this bill would have reduced federal sentences for non-violent drug offenders. This legislation aimed to give judges discretion to reduce juvenile life-without-parole sentences after 20 years, allow compassionate release of more people over the age of 60, and essentially ban juvenile solitary confinement in the federal system. At Council 2020 a committee began the work of updating the position. The committee utilized a list of issues, examined position of other states as well as National to write the currently proposed position for Convention 2021.

STATEMENT OF POSITION IN BRIEF

The LWVK supports all governmental units of the State of Kansas in their responsibility to provide a humane program of rehabilitation for adult offenders that would integrate them back into society as productive and successful citizens and thus protect the total community. The community is engaged in the progress of re-entry. The program would include adequate funding for diagnosis and treatment; work opportunities that are meaningful and reimbursed; vocational training; and a full range of educational opportunities. The LWVK opposes capital punishment.

LWVK supports a “Bill of Rights” for offenders. These rights include:

  • Human dignity
  • Personal security
  • Decent living conditions including nutritious meals
  • Legal Counsel
  • Work
  • Exercise
  • Adequate medical care

LWVK supports the development of alternatives to incarceration. These include:

  • Community based corrections and rehabilitation programs within existing institutions before new prison construction is approved. LWVK opposes private prisons.
  • A criminal justice system that is just, effective, equitable, transparent, and that fosters public trust and community engagement at all stages, including policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry.
  • The elimination of systemic bias, including the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of marginalized communities.
  • Practices that promote safety for both public safety officers and the communities they serve.
  • Collaboration is the goal among judicial systems, citizens, and law enforcement agencies throughout every stage of the criminal justice system.
  • Collaboration is encouraged between citizens and community based social and mental health agencies.
  • Reliance on evidence-based research in decision-making about public safety programs and policies (including scheduled, periodic audits of program and policy effectiveness) is the standard.
  • Encourage elimination of the stigma of arrest /incarceration.
  • Emphasis on restorative justice is the goal.

Public Safety Practices

LWVK supports improvements in the present system such as:

  • Ensure that crime prevention and promotion of public safety are the primary roles of state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • Training to identify mental health conditions, disabilities, or substance abuse/addiction in accused persons, and support treatment from appropriate medical and mental health professionals with the goal of diverting those individuals into treatment instead of jail.
  • Ensure active recruitment and employment of qualified women and minority personnel for prison staffs, probation, and parole staffs.
  • Ensure transparency and accountability of arresting practices using technology and cameras.
  • Require all officers to render first aid to people who have been injured as a result of police action.
  • Establish de-escalation protocols (the use of time, distance, communications and available resources whenever it is safe to do so) and anti-bias training and ensure that all staff are provided with this training.
  • Authorize minimal use of force during police encounters with the public and consider deadly force only when necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury.
  • Mandatory pre-sentence investigations conducted by probation and parole staff, or by contracts with local agencies for all felon and misdemeanants,
  • No state prison incarcerations for misdemeanants.
  • Ensure alternative non-discriminatory programs and facilities for women.
  • Provide accountability via independent citizen oversight of practices and publicly available data on officer conduct.
  • Disseminate information to the public which would encourage community confidence about policies, recruitment, procedures for complaint/commendation, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens and officers in interactions with each other.
  • Conduct comprehensive background checks to include such history as PTSD, domestic violence, sex offenses and affiliations with domestic terrorist groups, for all applicants to law enforcement positions.
  • Provide sufficient psychological services ad counseling to meet stress-related needs of personnel.
  • Establish recruitment efforts and staffing that reflects the diversity of the community served.
  • Encourage use of volunteer assistance such as counseling, support, help with family contact, to probationers, inmates, parolees, and their families.

PROVISION OF ADEQUATE RESOURCES

  • Provide funding for adequate numbers of public defenders to ethically represent indigent defendants.
  • Provide prosecutors, defense attorneys court counselors and judges with regular training on alternatives to incarceration including community-based treatment, pre-trial diversion programs and restorative justice practices.
  • Recognize that mental health conditions and substance abused/addictions are public health issues, not criminal in nature, and develop systems to respond accordingly, including drug courts, mental health evaluations and court-ordered treatment procedures and other methods of ensuring public safety without penal incarceration of such individuals.
  • Revise probation and parole guidelines to eliminate systemic bias based upon race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and economic status.
  • Develop programs supporting successful re-entry into the community of individuals leaving correctional institutions.

PRE-TRIAL PROCEDURE

  • Ensure that no person suffers discrimination due to race, religion, ability, ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status through development of risk assessment tools to prevent biased outcomes.
  • Ensure no person suffers discrimination through development of risk assessment tools to prevent biased outcomes for any person awaiting trial.
  • Follow a presumption of Own Recognizance bonds for nonviolent, non-person offenses.
  • Provide safety for detained individuals through segregation of detainees based upon severity of charge and nature of offense charged.
  • Implement work-release and home visitation procedures whenever appropriate to avoid loss of employment, housing, and family relationships.
  • Provide necessary medical, mental health and substance use treatment to detainees with known conditions requiring the same.
  • Develop additional alternatives to cash bail bonds to minimize disruption of employment, housing, and family relationships whenever possible.

SENTENCING

  • LWVK believes that alternatives to imprisonment should be explored and utilized, taking into consideration the circumstances and nature of the crime.
  • LWVK opposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. Consider the individual circumstances of the person charged and the nature of the crime, rather than mandatory minimum sentences.
  • First time offenders could be placed on probation or in a drug treatment program.
  • Rehabilitation – educational development opportunities, vocational training, job skills and living skills should be embedded in corrections programs so that offenders have the skills to be successful upon release from prison.

DEATH PENALTY

The LWVK supports the abolition of the death penalty in Kansas.


WICHITA-METRO AREA LEAGUE POSITIONS ON PUBLIC POLICY IN DETAIL

Click on LWV Wichita-Metro to read LWV Wichita-Metro complete positions in a new browser window.

KANSAS LEAGUE POSITIONS ON PUBLIC POLICY

Click on LWVK POSITIONS to read about Kansas League positions in a new browser window.

NATIONAL LEAGUE POSITIONS ON PUBLIC POLICY

LWVUS Positions: Impact on the Issues: A Guide to Public Policy Positions: 2016-2018