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General Assembly moves changes to expungements to governor

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House truly agreed to and finally passed legislation adding certain nonviolent offenses to a list of possible crimes that could be expunged from a person’s record.

State Sen. Kiki Curls

In a 141-4 vote Tuesday afternoon, the House advanced SB 1, championed by Democratic Sen. Kiki Curls. The bill adds property damage, stealing, and fraudulent use of a credit or debit card to the list of nonviolent offenses that could be expunged from an individual’s record.

“Just to be able to give some relief to those who have made mistakes in the past, have paid their debt to society, have lived on the straight and narrow, and deserve a second chance,” Curls previously said. “Over the past few years, we’ve tried to make significant revisions to the criminal code here in Missouri, and this is another attempt at that.”

“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,” she said.

The state’s criminal code caused some strife on the House floor before the vote when Rep. Shane Roden offered an amendment — which he said was made a facetious “tongue-in-cheek” manner — to revise the code to only include four crimes: murder, involuntary manslaughter, sexual assault, and theft.

Rep. Bruce Franks, a Democrat, pointed out the amendment didn’t include assault or arson and castigated the Republican for the “horrible way to use time to make a point.”

“Well, we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t want to put anyone in jail anymore,” Roden said before ultimately withdrawing the amendment.

On Monday, the House sent a bill to the governor that would modify mandatory minimum sentencing and protect Missourians from being jailed simply for being unable to pay board bills. That legislation, HB 192, was championed by Republican Rep. Bruce DeGroot and included a measure from fellow GOP Rep. Cody Smith.

Is there still hope for criminal justice reform this session?