TOPEKA -- Due to inconsistencies in statutes regarding sentencing for alleged felons who commit another felony while out on bond, the Kansas Sentencing Commission introduced House Bill 2046 to rectify the issue. On Monday, the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice began hearings for the bill.
HB 2046 aims to clarify the sentencing regulations for offenders who commit felonies while on a bond. The bill would amend Statute 21-6606(d), giving discretionary power to judges to decide whether a person out on felony bond who commits another felony will serve consecutive or concurrent sentences if found guilty of both crimes.
Currently, one statute requires consecutive sentencing in such a situation while a separate statute appears to give the district court discretion to decide between concurrent and consecutive sentencing, according to testimony provided by the Kansas Sentencing Commission.
“The proposed amendment does not preclude the district court from sentencing an offender to consecutive sentences when they commit a new felony crime while on felony bond,” said Scott Schultz, executive director of the Kansas Sentencing Commission in an email after the committee meeting. “It simply makes consecutive sentencing discretionary rather than mandatory.”
In the Sentencing Commission’s testimony, Schultz cited the unpublished decision in Carpentier v. State by the Kansas Court of Appeals, in which the defendant, David Carpentier, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence while out on bond from a previous DUI arrest. He was convicted in both cases but allowed to serve the sentences concurrently. The Court of Appeals held that the district court has discretion to issue sentences consecutively or concurrently when an individual is found guilty of a felony while out on felony bond.
However, the Kansas County and District Attorney’s Association (KCDAA) opposed the bill. Kim Parker, prosecutor coordinator for the KCDAA, likened the potential effects of the bill to that of punishing a child once for two instances of bad behavior.
“If we say don’t put your hand in the pumpkin pie and the child does, we may set the child in the time out chair for two minutes,” Parker said. “Let them up, and they put their hand in the pie again and we say, ‘Oh well, you already served your two minutes.’ That’s what concurrent sentencing is.”
The KCDAA’s opposing testimony noted that it fails to see any clarification in regard to the existing statutes, stating that the rules “reflect a clear statement of long-standing public policy for criminal sentencing,” according to a memo from the association.
HB 2046 has the potential to lower incarceration rates and the potential to save money by increasing the number of concurrent rather than consecutive sentences. Parker said these savings for the state come at the cost of the victims.
“This measure may indeed serve to free up bed space, and I know the cost of incarceration is of concern to our legislators and our legislative body, but the cost of a measure like this is only born on the backs of crime victims,” Parker said.
Grant Heiman is a University of Kansas junior from Wichita majoring in journalism.