JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Treatment court legislation continues to move through the General Assembly with ease as Rep. Kevin Austin’s HB 2 cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.
The bill, which passed out of the House 141-1, was heard in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Thursday afternoon. It passed out of the committee unanimously.
Austin noted that this legislation is very similar to his original bill in the regular success with mostly minor tweaks and changing a few shalls to mays. He also reiterated several points that he has been noting throughout the extra session, such as the effectiveness of treatment courts.
HB 2 would replace the term “drug courts” with “treatment courts” in state statute and place all treatment courts in Missouri under one regulatory umbrella. The state commission that oversees treatment courts would also be expanded by two new members, someone representing the criminal defense and someone representing prosecutors. The bill would also allow jurisdictions without a treatment court to transfer a defendant to another jurisdiction that does have a treatment court.
Greene County Commissioner Peggy Davis, who is on the Drug Courts Coordinating Commission, reiterated the effectiveness of treatment courts. She, again, cited a study that looked at Greene County and found that felony offenders who went through treatment court were 49 percent less likely to re-offend.
Samuel Lee, with Campaign Life Missouri, reiterated the benefit drug courts have on reducing the number of children born addicted.
In all roughly, half a dozen witnesses testified in support of the bill, nearly the same ones who spoke during the House hearing. No one spoke against the bill.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.