New Mo. sentencing laws could shorten time behind bars for nonviolent offenders

Jul 6, 2012

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation that could shorten the time some nonviolent offenders have to spend behind bars and on parole or probation.

The legislation enacted Friday allows nonviolent offenders on parole or probation to receive 30 days of credit toward their sentences for every month they go without a violation. It also allows 120-day "shock" jail sentences for felons who violate probation or parole for the first time, instead of returning them to prison to finish their original sentences.

The bill incorporates some suggestions of a study conducted last year by Missouri officials in conjunction with the Pew Center on the States. Nixon hosted a news conference when that study began, but he signed the bill without fanfare.

Last year, Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price, Jr., (who is set to resign Aug. 1) said many nonviolent offenders can be dealt with more effectively by other means.

“To reduce crime, we must do more than punish offenders; we must break the cycle of drug addiction and criminal behavior," Price said in 2011. "We need to help them turn their lives around to become productive, working, tax-paying members of our society.”

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