Missouri voters again felony justice reforms


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Because the GOP-led Missouri Legislature considers reforms, Justice Motion Community launched a statewide ballot displaying a majority of voters from each events consider the state’s felony justice system wants enchancment.  

The ballot, carried out in January amongst seemingly Missouri voters, discovered broad public help for holding individuals out of jail whereas they await trial for low-level offenses and for eradicating obstacles for individuals with felony historical past via measures similar to automated document expungement so law-abiding residents can start to earn a residing. 

These polled additionally indicated help for key reform proposals at present pending within the legislature, together with limiting misdemeanor probation sentences lengths (HB 2248 sponsored by Rep. Ron Hicks); establishing nursery packages in state prisons (HB 1897 sponsored by Rep. DeGroot and SB 834 sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer); and limiting bench warrants issued for site visitors violations (HB 1702 sponsored by Rep. Lane Roberts).  

“We are sometimes introduced with a false alternative between reform and public security, however these confirmed reforms present you may improve public security, whereas additionally concentrating on justice system sources the place they should go,” Katie Sinquefield, a felony justice reform advocate, mentioned. “Voters need the legislature to maintain individuals out of jail for low-level offenses, break down obstacles to reentry, and make it simpler for individuals who have made errors to show their lives round and contribute to their communities as soon as once more.”

“The clear message from Missouri voters is that lawmakers ought to double-down on their efforts to enhance the state’s felony justice system,” mentioned Noah Bein, state coverage supervisor for the Justice Motion Community. “This message transcends celebration affiliation and concrete/rural divides: voters overwhelmingly help evidence-backed legal guidelines that divert individuals from lockup, improve remedy choices, and take away obstacles to re-entering the workforce for residents who’ve accomplished their time.” 

The ballot discovered 72 p.c of voters in Missouri, together with two-thirds of Republicans and practically three-quarters of sufferer households, supported permitting Missouri residents with much less severe felony data who’ve remained crime-free for a time period to seal or expunge their data.

As well as, most Missouri voters, together with the overwhelming majority of Republicans and sufferer households, help holding individuals charged with “minor crimes like trespassing or intoxication” (79 p.c) or misdemeanors (72 p.c) locally whereas awaiting trial quite than holding them in jail.

People supported a number of proposals currenting into consideration by the legislature. 

For instance, Hicks’ invoice would restrict the size of probation for low-level offenses. The ballot discovered 64 p.c of voters in Missouri, together with majorities from each political events, and 84 p.c of regulation enforcement households, help capping probation sentences for misdemeanors and ordinance violations at 18 months.

As well as, Roberts is sponsoring laws that might remove the observe of issuing bench warrants for failure to seem in court docket for site visitors violations and failure to pay site visitors fines. This difficulty is supported by 58 p.c of voters surveyed and is especially salient for these in rural areas.

The ballot was carried out by landline and mobile phone from Jan. 15-18. It had a margin of error of +/- 4.4 p.c.