Missouri bill on minimum prison sentences heads to Senate

7 months 3 weeks 13 hours 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
CAMDENTON — Camdenton City Clerk Renee Kingston didn't fall for a traffic violation scam. Kingston said she received two... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 7:50:00 PM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A father was shot with his four children in his car while driving in south... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 7:36:00 PM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Board of Education will discuss modifications to the public comment section of its meetings Monday night.... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 5:13:00 PM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The CEO of Dow Inc. has donated $6 million to a new University of Missouri health institute... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 12:49:00 PM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
CENTRALIA — The city of Centralia held its first monthly meeting on public safety Monday night since the firing of... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 11:51:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
KEYTESVILLE- A mid-Missouri father filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the man accused of causing his disabled daughter's death... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 11:21:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A local group wants to expand the Jefferson City National Cemetery by relocating East Miller Park across... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 10:25:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Columbia/ Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is opening community-based pop up flu clinics... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 10:20:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Moms Demand Action is partnering with Stop the Bleed Coalition to hold crisis first aid training on... More >>
21 hours ago Monday, October 14 2019 Oct 14, 2019 Monday, October 14, 2019 3:40:00 AM CDT October 14, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Maries County sheriff's deputies said a drunk driver was to blame in a fatal car crash from early... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:46:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Drivers on I-70 westbound saw 2 mile long delays around mile marker 124 when the Missouri State Highway... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 4:18:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Missouri Department of Natural Resources said the number of people using the Katy Trail is down by... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 3:08:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The CDC began monitoring the 2019-2020 flu season this weekend. And doctors are urging people to get their... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 2:55:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA — Six Columbia churches had their first Sunday service with improved emergency health precautions on Oct. 13. The... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 2:00:00 PM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
HARSTBURG – Celebrating another fall season with pumpkin carving, hayrides and a straw maze, the 28th annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, October 13 2019 Oct 13, 2019 Sunday, October 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM CDT October 13, 2019 in News
TOKYO (AP) — A heavy downpour and strong winds pounded Tokyo and surrounding areas on Saturday as a powerful typhoon... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 8:03:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
LILBOURN, Mo. (AP) — A small earthquake has been reported in southeastern Missouri. The U.S. Geological Survey says... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 7:41:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — One person died after a crash in Cooper County Saturday morning. Haven Pennington, 19, drove her Pontiac... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, October 12 2019 Oct 12, 2019 Saturday, October 12, 2019 4:55:00 PM CDT October 12, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 54°
2am 57°
3am 57°
4am 56°
5am 56°