Governor Jay Nixon is expected to sign a piece of legislation into law that would focus criminal justice dollars and prison bed space on violent offenders, while community corrections efforts would be pushed for nonviolent offenders. The measure received overwhelming response from both the House and the Senate and was supported by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike.
“It is one of those rare times when we can come together and do something truly significant,” said co-sponsor Representative Rory Ellinger (D-University City), according to the Chicago Tribune.
Many states are doing similar things, reducing the incarceration rates of nonviolent offenders and even closing prisons. Missouri’s measure doesn’t go quite that far, but does hope to put more teeth in community supervision programs, potentially allowing more people to serve their sentence within the community rather than in jail.
With the assistance of the Pew Center on the States, lawmakers analyzed data from the state, looking at incarceration, community corrections, costs and various other variables. What they found what that 71% of the state’s prison admissions were for probation and parole violations, and about 43% were incarcerated for “technical violations,” meaning non-criminal actions like failing to report to a supervising officer.
These violations, it’s been determined, can often be prevented early on, reducing the need for probation and parole violators to go to prison. The new legislation hopes to increase the power of supervising officers in order to prevent incarceration.
Among other things, the law will allow for more intensive supervision. Probation officers can dole out quick and harsh jail sentences as sort of a wake-up call to offending probationers. A 48-hour jail stay at the first incident of a failed drug-test, for instance, could potentially keep one from making bigger violations and ultimately landing back in prison.
“You may not need a long prison sentence to get into someone’s head that when they’re not following the rules, there’s going to be swift punishment,” said Brian Elderbroom, a project manager at the Pew Center.
Both probation and parole are considered privileges. They aren’t available in every single criminal case, though they are used frequently. When you are charged with a criminal offense, whether it is domestic assault or possession of cocaine, probation without time spent in jail may be an excellent outcome.
By discussing the details of your case with us, we can determine if you might be eligible for such community supervision.