JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — At the end of the legislative session, House Speaker Elijah Haahr pointed to the passage of multiple criminal justice reform measures as a success for the 100th General Assembly.
Ultimately, a massive criminal justice reform omnibus bill stalled in the House, but three particular provisions passed the legislature or were included on other bills. Those three bipartisan measures included changes to board bill penalties, mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent offenses, and expungement eligibility.
Rep. Shamed Dogan, the Republican chairman of the Special Committee on Criminal Justice, previously told The Missouri Times: “If we end up this session with legislation that ends up increasing our prison population, rather than decreasing it, we will have failed entirely on criminal justice reform.”
But with the session over, he praised the legislature for taking “several steps forward on criminal justice reform … without taking steps backward.”
“These reforms will help many nonviolent offenders to rejoin their families and rebuild their lives after incarceration,” Dogan told The Missouri Times.
SB 1, championed by Democratic Sen. Kiki Curls, was truly agreed and finally passed last week. The bill adds property damage, stealing, and fraudulent use of a credit card to the list of nonviolent offenses that could eventually be expunged from an individual’s record.
“Folks sometimes make mistakes as teenagers, and by the time they reach 50 or 60 [years old], it becomes very difficult for them to obtain work, jobs, or other things they’re wanting to do to live a pretty fruitful and successful life,” Curls has said.
Additionally, the legislature truly agreed and finally passed HB 192, legislation championed by Republican Rep. Bruce DeGroot stripping the punishment of more prison time for someone who cannot afford board bills — which often created an unbreakable cycle.
That legislation also included additional language pertaining to mandatory minimum sentencing. That provision, stemming from Rep. Cody Smith, eliminated mandatory minimum sentencing for certain nonviolent crimes. The Republican told The Missouri Times not only would this save taxpayer money, it would also lower the recidivism rate in the state.
The criminal justice reforms head to the governor for final approval. And DeGroot said he’s already in talks about future reforms, including regarding civil asset forfeiture, he can work on in the next legislative session.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.