Activities & Programs

Activities:

In 2012, District Attorney Steve Howe led a successful capital campaign for Safehome, Johnson County’s domestic violence shelter. This campaign allowed Safehome to expand and provide greater resources to victims of domestic violence.

In 2015 Steve became a member of the board of directors for Sunflower House, our child advocacy center who provides essential services to abused and neglected children.

Steve has been a member of MOCSA’s advisory board since 2009. This organization provides support to victims of sexual assault.

In 2015 Steve was asked to be on a state wide committee to tackle the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in Kansas (SAKI).  This group was to formulate a plan to help eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.  It also established best practices for the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases.  It also included statewide training for a variety of disciplines who assist victims of sexual assaults.

Steve was on the board of directors for the Kansas Counties and District Attorneys Association) KCDAA.

Since 2009 Steve has been involved in the Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC), that helps create evidence based policies.

In both 2011 and 2015, Steve was elected to be on the 10th Judicial District Nominating Committee by the 3,500 licensed lawyer in Johnson County. This committee is charged with interviewing and recommending lawyers to the Governor for appointment as District Court Judge.

In 2019 Steve was asked to be on the board of directors for formulating a family justice center, which is an evidence based model that provides a center to aid survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse and human trafficking.

Steve participates in the “Zero Reasons Why Initiative”,  which was a private – public partnership with Johnson County Schools and their students to help reduce teen suicide and provide support to kids in need.

Steve is involved in the Kansas Sexual Assault Response Advisory Committee (K-SARAC). This State wide committee is establishing best practices and help create better cross discipline collaboration to support victims of sexual assault. This committee will provide on-going training to a large number of disciplines to ensure the use of best practices across the state.

Awards:

  • 2014 – Community Ally of the Year Award by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
  • 2016 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award from the Olathe branch of the NAACP.
  • 2017 – Kansas Advocates for Better Care gave Steve the  KABC Caring Award,  for Outstanding leadership to improve safety and justice for older Kansans
  • 2019 – Steve’s office received the (ESRG) Above and Beyond Patriot Award, by the Kansas National Guard and Reserves for supporting service men and women in his office.

Programs:

In 2009, District Attorney Steve Howe implemented a pre-file diversion plan for juveniles charged with being in possession of alcohol (MIP’s).  Figures have shown an over 90% success rate of juveniles that participate in the program.

In 2010, with the assistance of law enforcement, DCF and medical professionals, Steve established the Financial Abuse Specialist Teams (FAST) to quickly identify, react to, and investigate elder abuse.

In response to domestic violence in the community, Steve implemented the first Kansas lethality assessment in 2011.  This has been proven to be an effective tool in identifying and reducing domestic violence in Johnson County. Steve also has members of Safehome ebbed in the office to assist victims of domestic violence.

In 2016, District Attorney Howe partnered with the Veteran’s Administration, Johnson County Court Services, the Johnson County Bar Association and the Johnson County District Court to start the very first Veteran’s Treatment Court in Kansas. This program focuses on veterans who suffer from mental health and/or substance abuse issues attributed to their served to the county. This intense diversion or probation program gives these defendant’s the tools they need to get back on their feet.

Based on the growing threat of opiate overdoses and deaths, in 2016 Steve had begun an initiative with law enforcement to target drug dealers who deal these deadly drugs

The use of community service work for those on adult diversion was significantly expanded in 2018 under Steve’s leadership. The District Attorney’s Office partners with the Metropolitan Community Service Program a subsidiary of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission to administer this program. This allows individuals to give back to their communities as part of their diversion plan.

Steve with the assistance of the diversion chief and diversion coordinator, collaborated on a way to expand the current mental health diversion program. The mental health diversion program currently was available only to qualified Johnson County residents who are defendants and whose criminal behavior is driven by their serious mental health issues. This is a partnership between the District Attorney’s Office and Johnson County Mental Health Center. The Mental Health Diversion Program was expanded effective October 1, 2019, to accept applications from defendants who reside outside of Johnson County. By eliminating the residency requirement, the District Attorney’s Office allows more defendants within our greater Kansas City community and beyond to take advantage of this program. In this program, Defendants are not eligible for services at Johnson County Mental Health since they reside outside of the county, so the District Attorney’s Office works with private mental health providers to provide that service. Our hope is this type of diversion program can reduce the number of Severely Mentally Ill individuals having repeated contacts with the criminal justice system.

As a member of  (CJAC) Steve has helped implement a number of County wide policies to reduce the number of mentally ill be incarcerated. This includes the co-responder programs, expanding the use of (CIT) training for law enforcement and brief mental health screening when a person is booked in jail. This has led to Johnson County being named as an “innovator county” by the council of State Governments and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This also led to Johnson County receiving an Achievement Award by the by the National Association of Counties.

In response to the pandemic, on July 6, 2020, Traffic Diversion was expanded to allow defendant’s charged with certain infractions to complete the diversion process online without the need to come to the courthouse. An expansion of the Traffic Diversion Online Program occurred on March 8, 2021 to include some misdemeanor traffic offenses. Both of these efforts have already resulted in hundreds of traffic tickets being diverted without the need for the public to come to the District Attorney’s Office to process diversions, in addition, alleviating their need to appear in court.