State rep, former inmate begin push toward criminal justice reform

Posted on 25 March 2019 at 4:04pm

JEFFERSON CITY- State representatives gathered Monday to announce the introduction of the Missouri First Step Act later this week.

“This is a comprehensive criminal justice reform package” said representative R-Shamed Dogan from Ballwin.

The legislation, named in honor of the national First Step Act, aims to help formerly incarcerated people reentering society and seeks to reduce re-convictions. President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, which eases mandatory-minimum drug sentences, in December.

The act would give women free access to feminine products, ban shackling of pregnant women, provide free healthcare products to those in custody and more. Legislators from around the state helped contribute to the bill's language.

Former inmate Matthew Charles was at Monday's announcement. Charles was sentenced in 1995 to 35 years for a nonviolent drug offense. He was a beneficiary of the First Step Act and was one of the first inmates released after its passage.

“I am very excited about what the state of Missouri is doing,” said Charles.