It’s rare these days that a piece of legislation receives overwhelming bipartisan support in the Missouri General Assembly. But that’s what happened this week when the House and Senate gave final approval to HB 1525, known as the Justice Reinvestment Act. Sponsored by Rep. Gary Fuhr (R-St. Louis), this bill modifies provisions relating to probation, parole and conditional release.
At the heart of the measure is an attempt to reserve limited prison space for the most serious offenders. Under the bill, individuals on probation or parole can reduce their time of supervision by following the rules. Probation officers can send those who violate supervision rules to short stints in county jails instead of returning them to prison. More serious violations could result in a 120-day “shock” sentence instead of enforcing the original, longer sentence.
While not as far-reaching as some had hoped, this bill was the culmination of a joint, bipartisan working group appointed by Gov. Nixon last summer to find a way to reduce prison costs while maintaining public safety. The Pew Center on the States provided technical support. The bill is estimated to save state coffers at least $165,000 a year.
The MCC supported the measure for its restorative justice components and its efforts to reduce the prison population. Gov. Nixon is expected to sign the bill.