History of Legislation:
2017: Sentencing reform is moving in Missouri!
Two bills, HB 38 and HB 1037, were introduced into the Missouri House of Representatives in 2017. FAMM supports both HB 38, introduced by Representative Galen Higdon (R, District 11), and HB 1037, introduced by Representative Bruce DeGroot (R-District 101). HB 38 passed through the House Judiciary Committee on April 13, 2017.
FAMM Supports HB 38. The bill, if passed, makes the “truth-in-sentencing” provisions for offenders with previous convictions optional. Under the current law, individuals with one previous conviction are required to serve 40% of their sentence and individuals with two previous convictions are required to serve 50% of their sentence. HB 38 would make these sentencing provisions optional while maintaining the mandatory 80% served for offenders with three or more previous convictions.
This bill also creates parole eligibility for offenders, outside of convictions for first-degree murder and certain sex offenses, who meet the following criteria:
- There was no heinous motive involved in the court;
- The person is capable of rehabilitation;
- The person has been a model prisoner;
- The crime did not involve physical harm or threat of violence to another person; and
- The crime did not involve a firearm.
FAMM supports HB 1037. This bill, if passed, would create a “safety valve” which would allow judges to depart from applicable mandatory minimum sentences if the court finds “substantial and compelling reasons” that imposing the mandatory minimum sentence is not necessary for the protection of the public or would result in a substantial injustice to the defendant.
The safety valve would not apply to any crime in which the defendant threatened to use, or used, physical force against another person or caused serious physical injury to another person, or if the defendant was charged with a sexual offense (unless the sexual contact was consensual and the victim was at least thirteen and the offenders was not more than four years older than the victim).
Additionally, the safety valve will not apply if the court finds that:
- The defendant has a conviction for the same offense during the ten-year period prior to the commission of the offense;
- The individual intentionally used a firearm in a manner that caused physical injury during the commission of the offense; or
- The individual was the leader, manager, or supervisor of others in a continuing criminal enterprise.
HB 2036 did not pass. It would have reduced the 85% requirement to 40% upon the condition of a board review and their discretion to recommend parole or clemency.
Bill was passed to reduce crack-powder cocaine disparity by increasing the amount of crack cocaine that triggers mandatory minimum sentences. It has gone from 75:1 to 18:1.
“Truth in Sentencing” Act passed, therefore individuals convicted of a Class A felony must serve 85% of their sentence before being parole eligible. This is also known as the 85% Law. It resulted in:
- Highest per capita rates of incarceration
- the prison population grew, increasing 9 times in the last 30 years
- the cost of corrections increasing from $220 million in 1994 to $680 million in 2014
Missouri Dept. of Corrections Budget: $503.9 million
State Expenses: $680.5 million
State Population: 6 million
State Incarceration Rate: 518 out of every 100,000 imprisoned
- 8th highest incarceration in the county
- 37% incarcerated are labeled as “minimum custody level” or low-level, nonviolent
You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.
May 1, 2017
Legislation has been introduced in Missouri that would relax the state’s rigid sentencing laws in favor of more flexible guidelines. Known as the Justice Safety Valve Act, the bill would offer a reprieve from inflexible one-size-fits-all sentencing and could save taxpayers a lot of money. Under current law, sentencing courts are required to issue minimum… Read more »
February 6, 2017
Originally seen in Corrections One. JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For 16 years as Missouri attorney general, Jay Nixon’s job was to be tough on crime. His office argued against seemingly countless appeals from people challenging their convictions and sentences. As he nears the end of his tenure as governor — and a lengthy political career… Read more »
February 6, 2017
Originally seen in The Daily Chronic. COLUMBIA, MO — Sentencing reforms took effect on January 1, 2017 eliminating the threat of jail time for some first-time marijuana offenders. Under the newly enacted law, first-time offenders who possess no more than ten grams of cannabis face a $500 fine, but no threat of incarceration. However, the act… Read more »
February 6, 2017
Originally seen in KSHB. JEFFERSON City, Mo – The 2017 Missouri General Assembly session, which begins on Wednesday, could bring a number of changes to state issues, including sentencing guidelines for certain criminals. House Bill 38, sponsored by State Rep. Galen Higdon (R – District 11), aims to get rid of mandatory minimum sentences in… Read more »