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Staffing changes occurring at Kansas Department of Corrections

A new unit, focused on research and behavior analytics, will be one of the key features of several staffing changes at the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) effective June 16.  

KDOC Reentry Director Margie Phelps will serve as Executive Director of Programs and Risk Reduction. In addition to managing the Central Office Reentry team and various specialists throughout KDOC’s correctional facilities and parole offices, she also will work with contract academic and vocational education programs, substance abuse programs and sex offender treatment. Her division also will manage staff training to bring a greater focus to the role all employees have in the risk reduction effort and in modeling and working toward changes in offender behavior. 

Phelps also will manage a new position, Case Management Director, to advance risk reduction case management throughout the corrections system, for adults and juveniles, during incarceration and in the community. 

A new Research and Behavior Analytics team will work with the KDOC Information Technology and management team to advance research, including using data analytics and augmented intelligence while also increasing data literacy within the department. 

“I am excited to join these similar functions together into one cohesive unit for the benefit of offenders and the communities they return to, in order to reduce revictimization by the offenders while also changing their behavior through education to become productive law-abiding citizens,” Phelps said.  

Phelps has served as Reentry Director for more than 18 years and has worked for the KDOC for nearly 30 years.  Previously, Phelps served as Deputy Warden at Lansing Correctional Facility, after working in Parole Services, Facilities Management and Human Resources.  Phelps received her Bachelors in Corrections and Criminal Justice from Washburn University in 1987, a J.D. from Washburn University Law School in 1980, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 1993. 

Randy Bowman, Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Services, will become Executive Director of Public Affairs, serving both legislative liaison and communication/media relations roles. Bowman will succeed Jeanny Sharp, public affairs/communications director who will now serve as Communications Director for the Kansas Department of Transportation and Tim Madden who is retiring June 17th after working on legislative matters for the KDOC since 2003.

“Collaboration with stakeholders in the juvenile justice system led Kansas to reform our system and enact policies to improve outcomes for youth and increase public safety,” Randy Bowman said. “I look forward to this opportunity at a time when the Department is faced with many challenges and the Kansas Legislature established the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission to begin looking at our criminal justice system this summer.”

Bowman became the Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Services in May 2017. Previously, he served as the agency’s juvenile services director of community-based services. Bowman has worked in various capacities within state juvenile services since January 1998 including serving under the Juvenile Justice Authority as one of its first program consultants. Bowman graduated with a criminal justice degree from Washburn University in 1993.

Bowman’s current juvenile services team will report to Hope Cooper, who will serve as Deputy Secretary of Juvenile and Adult Community-Based Services. Cooper currently is Deputy Secretary of Community and Field Services, a position she has held since June 2016.

“The agency will be able to coordinate services with shared adult and juvenile stakeholders while maintaining consistency in areas specific to juvenile services,” Cooper said.

Cooper joined the KDOC in 2008 as a program consultant in the community corrections division prior to being promoted to the KDOC’s director of community corrections. At the time of her appointment to deputy secretary, she had been serving as warden of the Topeka Correctional Facility since 2011.

Prior to joining the KDOC, Cooper worked as a probation officer for the U.S. District Courts in Topeka and for Community Solutions, Inc., an adult day reporting center in Topeka. She began her corrections career with Excelsior Youth Center in Aurora, Colo., at a residential treatment center for adolescent girls. Cooper has a master’s degree in counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice, both from Chadron State College, Chadron, Neb.

“This management structure has been developed by Roger Werholtz, Keven Pellant and me over the past five months,” said Acting Secretary of Corrections Charles Simmons. “The new Secretary, Jeff Zmuda, has been briefed on this change in management responsibilities and agrees with this increased focus on evidence-based risk reduction and reentry strategies,”

Simmons is the Acting Secretary of Corrections until June 30. Governor Laura Kelly’s appointee, Jeff Zmuda, will take over as Secretary of Corrections on July 1.

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