Pew Applauds Missouri Leaders for Enacting Public Safety Reforms

New law will reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and control prison costs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., July 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --­­­­ Governor Jay Nixon today signed a package of corrections reforms into law, advancing a set of data-driven policies that are designed to improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, and cut corrections costs. The Justice Reinvestment Act, sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman and Representative Gary Fuhr, received near unanimous support in both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.

"Public safety issues traditionally have divided the two major political parties, but Missouri leaders worked across the aisle to pass strong measures that will reduce reoffending and make communities safer," said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. "The new law wraps together some of the best research-based strategies to hold offenders accountable for their actions and stop the cycle of recidivism.  It will improve public safety and help control the growing cost of the prison system."

The Missouri legislation was based on the recommendations of the bipartisan Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections, which received intensive technical assistance from Pew. The group was established to identify ways to contain prison spending so that more of the state's corrections dollars could be reinvested in strategies that reduce recidivism. With nearly two-thirds of prison admissions resulting from revocations of community supervision, the group identified failures on probation and parole supervision as a leading driver of the prison population. To address this problem, the Justice Reinvestment Act:

  • Provides incentives for offenders to comply with the rules of supervision;
  • Allows probation and parole officers to impose swift and certain jail sanctions when violations do occur;
  • Ensures that punishments are proportional to violations by capping the amount of time that nonviolent offenders can serve for breaking the rules of probation; and
  • Creates an oversight body responsible for monitoring implementation and certifying fiscal savings for reinvestment.

The Missouri House passed the bill unanimously, 151-0; the Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 28-2.

In passing the new law, Missouri joins more than a dozen states including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas that have passed corrections reforms in the past few years.

The Working Group was appointed by Governor Nixon, Supreme Court Judge William Price Jr., Speaker of the House Steven Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mayer. It conducted an in-depth analysis of the state's sentencing and corrections data and received input from a wide range of stakeholders, including prosecutors, sheriffs, crime victim advocates, and county officials.  At the request of state leaders, Pew's Public Safety Performance Project provided technical assistance to the Working Group and state leaders throughout the reform process.

The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.  More information is available at www.pewstates.org.

SOURCE The Pew Center on the States



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