JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A pair of bills filed by Rep. David Evans this week would set “basic presumption” standards for judges when considering bond, parole, or probation for individuals with an emphasis on potential safety risks.
“It’s really creating the basic presumptions, and the fact that we must consider the danger and the safety factor as one of the primary considerations for judges,” Evans, a Republican representing HD 154, told The Missouri Times.
HB 1519 would solidify a judge must take into consideration whether an individual poses a dangerous risk to a victim, witness, or the community when considering bond.
The legislation calls for the consideration of whether the individual has a prior conviction related to armed criminal activity, burglary, and the distribution of a controlled substance — among other things — when determining if that person poses a danger.
Additionally, Evans pre-filed HB 1520 which tackles changes to parole and probation and also places a premium on establishing whether an individual poses a threat to the community. The bill stipulates that if an arrest alleges probable cause that the person committed a felony in any state — not just Missouri — while on probation or parole, he or she is considered to be a danger and can be held.
The bill also seeks to establish all offenders are considered to be competent to participate in a parole hearing unless otherwise proven.
“The concern is … if we start opening the door without setting standards for parole hearings, and we start getting everybody an attorney, then there will be a floodgate of litigation and a floodgate of attorneys appointed to every single person in prison,” Evans said. “So this sets the standard to simply be: You can’t say, ‘I need an attorney because I can’t do this myself.’ You have to show some evidence that you have a disability or you cannot, in fact, represent yourself in a hearing.”
Multiple lawmakers vowed to tackle bail reform following the implementation of new bond rules set by the Missouri Supreme Court that went into effect in July. Those rules urged judges to consider non-monetary conditions of release first unless deemed necessary for the public’s safety or to ensure an alleged offender would show up for a court appearance.
The new rules came under scrutiny following a mass shooting in a Kansas City, Kansas, bar in October that left four people dead. One of the alleged shooters had been granted a bond reduction a month prior while in front of a Jackson County judge for a different alleged crime.
Evans was first elected to the House in 2018. He is a former longtime judge from West Plains.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 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., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.