*UPDATE*: In September, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed to hear this case and also ordered Larry Markle to respond to our Mandamus petition. Read the news release here. Mr. Markle's response was filed on September 27, 2018. 

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On June 8, 2018, the ACLU of Kansas filed suit against Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle on behalf of Kansas Crossroads Foundation and Karena Wilson for his failure to fulfill his legal duty to implement diversion programs in accordance with Kansas law. Instead, Mr. Markle instead pursued the more expensive and disproportionately harsh prosecution of individuals posing minimal community risks. 

The plaintiffs are the Kansas Crossroads Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides ministry and support services to Wilson and Montgomery County defendants convicted of drug offenses, including addiction recovery programs, and Karena Wilson, a 19-year-old girl who was never notified of her diversion options on a first-time theft charge. 

Montgomery County DA Larry Markle hid the county diversion program from eligible defendants. He is breaking the law, refusing to fulfill the legally required duties of his office, and violating defendants' rights.

Mr. Markle failed to properly inform defendants about his diversion policies and guidelines per K.S.A. §22-2907(3) and to provide in-person diversion conferences to defendants offered diversion under K.S.A. §22-2907(2). The suit seeks a Writ of Mandamus from the Kansas Supreme Court requiring Mr. Markle to create written diversion policies, to provide written notice of those policies to all defendants in his jurisdiction, and to provide diversion conference to defendants offered diversion. 

Mr. Markle’s failure to follow Kansas diversion law negatively impacted the work of KCF, which has had to divert significant staff, volunteer, and financial resources away from rehabilitation to helping defendants convicted in Montgomery County comply with the conditions of their probation or parole. 

Before filing the suit, the ACLU of Kansas contacted Mr. Markle in an effort to resolve the matter without litigation in a May 30, 2018, letter. Mr. Markle responded by declining to take action for resolution and directing the plaintiffs to "take whatever legal action you feel appropriate."
 
Mr. Markle's practice of shirking Kansas diversion laws is expensive and costly. As the ACLU of Kansas found in its December 2017 report, Kansas prosecutors utilized diversion in felony cases at half the national average. Kansas could reduce its prison population and save $8.9 million annually if Kansas prosecutors embraced diversion at the national average of 9 percent. In Montgomery County, Mr. Markle used diversion at 1.7 percent - even lower than the state average. By raising his use of diversion to the national average, Mr. Markle could save Montgomery county taxpayers $234,125 annually.

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