Why FAMM is Working in Missouri:

Missouri has the 8th largest prison population in the country. Without sentencing reform and other reforms, the state will incarcerate almost 35,000 people and be forced to build two new prisons by 2021. Part of the growth in Missouri’s prison system is because judges are required to give people lengthy prison sentences and lack discretion to fit the punishment to the crime and the individual in many cases.

2018 Bills FAMM Supports:

In 2018, FAMM continues to work with lawmakers to pass a “safety valve” bill that will give judges flexibility not to apply statutory and mandatory minimum prison terms when the offender meets certain criteria. The Missouri Legislature meets until May 31, 2018. Below are the bills we’re supporting.  

Who HB 1739 and SB 748 Would Help: People sentenced in Missouri state courts (not federal offenders).

Bill Status: Neither HB 1739 nor SB 748 is a law yet. Both bills have been approved by the required committees and are ready for floor votes by the full House or Senate, respectively. To become law, a bill must be passed by the Missouri House, the Missouri Senate, and signed by the governor. 

HB 1739 (Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage) 
          — Read FAMM’s testimony submitted to the House Public Safety Committee (2/20/18)

SB 748 (Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar)

Keep checking here for details about the bills and their progress!


These resources explain what the bills FAMM supports would do, who they would help, and how much they would save taxpayers.

What HB 1739/SB 748 Do, and Who They Help

Cost-savings of HB 1739/SB 748: $4 Million Per Year

Why HB 1739/SB 748 Are Good for Missouri, Taxpayers, and Public Safety

How Missouri’s Minimum Prison Terms (MPTs) Work

Missouri’s Drug Sentencing Laws

ALEC State Factor: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform Saves States Money and Reduces Crime Rates (2016)

How Other States Have Reformed Mandatory Sentencing Laws (Nov. 2017)

Council of State Governments’ Final Recommendations to Missouri Justice Reinvestment Task Force (12/18/17)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri faces choice: Improve prison system or build two new lockups, task force warns (1/4/18)

History of sentencing reforms in Missouri:


Two bills, HB 38 and HB 1037, were introduced into the Missouri House of Representatives in 2017. FAMM supported both HB 38, introduced by Representative Galen Higdon (R, District 11), and HB 1037, introduced by Representative Bruce DeGroot (R-District 101). Neither bill became law. 

May 2012:
Bill was passed to reduce crack-powder cocaine disparity by increasing the amount of crack cocaine that triggers mandatory minimum sentences. The crack-powder disparity in Missouri sentencing went 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 increased 9 times in 30 years
  • the cost of corrections increasing from $220 million in 1994 to $680 million in 2014. 

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:

February 27, 2018

Missouri Sentencing Reform Clears First Hurdle

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 Missouri Sentencing Reform Clears First Hurdle JEFFERSON CITY, MO – FAMM Vice President of Policy Molly Gill today lauded the Missouri House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee for unanimously approving a bill to reform the state’s sentencing laws. The bill, HB 1739, introduced by Rep. Cody Smith (R-163), would help… Read more »

May 1, 2017

Criminal Justice Reform: Mandatory Minimums

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

Mo. Governor Tops 100 Pardons

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

Minor Marijuana Possession Offenses No Longer Punishable By Jail

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 »