Missouri bill on minimum prison sentences heads to Senate

4 months 4 weeks 1 day ago Friday, February 22 2019 Feb 22, 2019 Friday, February 22, 2019 9:44:00 AM CST February 22, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Judges could ignore mandatory minimum sentencing laws for some nonviolent offenders under a bill passed Thursday by Missouri's Republican-led House, a move that's part of a broader push to revamp the state's criminal justice system.

The bill, which passed the House 140-17, wouldn't allow for reduced sentences in cases of violent crimes, sexual crimes against minors or crimes involving guns.

But the sponsor, Republican Rep. Cody Smith, told colleagues on the House floor that it could reduce the state's prison population and would give judges the flexibility to differentiate between "the folks we're scared of and the folks we're mad at."

"There's a tremendous appetite for criminal justice reform in our state and in our nation right now," said Smith, who also leads the House Budget Committee. "This is one tool in the toolbox, and an important step in the right direction."

In recent years, Missouri has had the eighth-highest incarceration rate among the states. But Department of Corrections officials have cited an overhaul of the state's criminal laws that took effect in 2017 as the cause of a recent drop in the prison population. As a result, Gov. Mike Parson and the corrections director now plan to close a prison.

Legislative researchers estimate Smith's bill could mean about 466 fewer prisoners per year and save the state as much as $3 million when fully implemented in fiscal year 2023.

Rep. Shane Roden, a Cedar Hill Republican and reserve deputy sheriff, said changing sentencing laws will, in practice, mean overcrowding at local jails because he predicted it would lead to an uptick in parole violations.

"While it may sound like we're doing a good thing by lowering the requirement, and there are some good things behind this, we've just shifted the burden," Roden said on the House floor.

Kansas City Democratic Rep. Brandon Ellington pushed lawmakers to go further to allow for possible earlier release for first-time felony offenders and older inmates.

But Ellington — a member of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, which is backing a number of criminal justice bills — said even though his proposal was shot down, he noticed more interest among new Republican lawmakers.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said the shift in public interest from tough-on-crime to smart-on-crime policy has eased the way for Republican support.

"It's not on the top of everybody's list, but I think everybody understands the importance," Rowden said of support in the Senate.

Other pending bills on criminal justice include expunging records for low-level marijuana crimes.

The House on Wednesday also gave initial approval to a bill to require parole hearings after 30 years served for prisoners at least 65 years old who were sentenced to life behind bars but had no prior violent felony convictions. Sex offenders would not be eligible.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA — Prosecutors charged Ryan Wade Blair, 27, with two counts of assault and endangering a correctional officer. Blair... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 7:36:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Local, state and federal agencies will be conducting emergency preparedness exercises at the Hearnes Center on MU's campus... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 6:59:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A federal judge sentenced a Columbia man Monday morning for his role in a drug trafficking case. ... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 5:27:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation will receive $81.2 million to replace the Rocheport Bridge. The money will... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 4:36:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
HOLTS SUMMIT, Mo. — A Chicago man faces criminal charges related to a suspicious package case in Holts Summit. ... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 4:11:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A roof collapsed early this morning from too much rain. The apartment complex had a temporary fix... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 2:59:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Users of the popular social sharing site Reddit are upset after they say a scammer targeted them--posing as... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 2:50:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
MOBERLY - Contaminants stemming from an Orscheln facility may be in Moberly's air and sewers, and the City Council voted... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 2:12:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Close to 90,000 children and 23,000 adults have been dropped from Missouri's Medicaid health insurance program... More >>
15 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 2:03:00 PM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A power outage has caused Lincoln University to close for the rest of Monday. The... More >>
18 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 11:37:00 AM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
MACKS CREEK — A building in Camden County has collapsed after floodwaters compromised the structure. According to a Facebook... More >>
19 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 10:28:00 AM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
ESTES PARK, CO. — John Drage doesn’t know how many more miles he’s got left in him. Every step,... More >>
20 hours ago Monday, July 22 2019 Jul 22, 2019 Monday, July 22, 2019 9:28:00 AM CDT July 22, 2019 in News
STRAFFORD — A KY3 viewer, JD Matney, shared this video of a mountain lion walking along just north of Strafford.... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 21 2019 Jul 21, 2019 Sunday, July 21, 2019 8:24:00 PM CDT July 21, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA — Columbia police responded to a report of shots fired early Sunday morning. The incident occurred on Apple... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 21 2019 Jul 21, 2019 Sunday, July 21, 2019 6:08:00 PM CDT July 21, 2019 in News
LAKE OF THE OZARKS - Missouri Highway Patrol Troop F responded to a boat fire at the Lake of the... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 21 2019 Jul 21, 2019 Sunday, July 21, 2019 5:40:00 PM CDT July 21, 2019 in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY - FEMA opened the doors of a new Disaster Recovery Center in Cole County over the weekend. ... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 21 2019 Jul 21, 2019 Sunday, July 21, 2019 1:37:00 PM CDT July 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A Columbia teenager is home safe after she was missing for almost two days. Summer Skye Allen,... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, July 20 2019 Jul 20, 2019 Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:05:00 PM CDT July 20, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA — Three men were arrested after allegedly stealing $22,000 worth of electronics from a Moberly Walmart Saturday. Several... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, July 20 2019 Jul 20, 2019 Saturday, July 20, 2019 6:53:00 PM CDT July 20, 2019 in Continuous News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 63°
6am 60°
7am 62°
8am 65°
9am 70°