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Newsroom Fleeing felons program gets felons off the streets--and welfare rolls

Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Rob Siedlecki told a legislative panel on Tuesday that, as part of its renewed emphasis on eliminating fraud and abuse, SRS has begun implementing the Fleeing Felon program in collaboration with law enforcement agencies in Kansas. 

“We are sharing information with law enforcement agencies to bring fugitive felons to justice,” Secretary Siedlecki said.  “In the coming months, SRS plans to activate this program in more counties so the law can be systematically enforced, getting felons off the streets and off of our benefit rolls at the same time.”   

The Fleeing Felon program was authorized by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 but, under previous administrations, was never put into practice in Kansas. This program involves matching law enforcement agencies’ felony fugitive files with SRS’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient records.  As a result, law enforcement officers are able to locate and apprehend fugitives who also are receiving benefits illegally. Felony incarceration is an automatic disqualifier for public assistance.

Law enforcement agencies provide SRS with a monthly list of fugitive felons, persons for whom felony arrest warrants have been issued. Statewide, several hundred names per month appear on the lists. 

A recent monthly operation using the standard felon list in one of Kansas’ larger counties achieved a felon cross match of 95 separate warrants (not individuals) that resulted in an estimated program cost savings of $74,734 for SRS.  

In a special operation in a mid-sized Kansas county, 19 fleeing felons were identified with warrants resulting in an estimated program cost savings of $11,793.  Another operation in that same mid-sized county resulted in the discovery of an additional 17 fleeing felons with outstanding felony warrants.  Of those 17, six were found to already be incarcerated and four others were apprehended and jailed.  The SNAP benefits of those 17 fleeing felons are being terminated, generating additional cost savings for SRS.