In an effort to address the prison population, Rep. Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph) filed a bill to make mandatory minimum sentences discretionary. HB 38 would also outline when a person is eligible for a parole hearing.
Mandatory minimum sentences are a form of “get tough” policies that gained popularity in the 1990s. They require that a judge impose a statutorily fixed sentence on an individual offender. Currently inmates are required to serve from 40% to 85% of their sentence depending on the nature of the crime and the offender’s prior criminal history. Many believe mandatory minimums have been largely responsible for the drastic increase in prison population in Missouri in the last 25 years.
The MCC has traditionally opposed mandatory minimums as it prevents the judge from considering extenuating circumstances when sentencing an offender. Stay tuned to see if this bill gains traction this session.