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Morning headlines: Friday, March 9, 2012

(via Flickr/neil_conway)

Mo. House approves test program that helps children visit moms in prison

Missouri House members are calling for a pilot project to help women in the state's prisons have more contact with their children.

Legislation approved by the House would require the Corrections and Social Services departments to start a two-year test program to provide transportation for children and a caretaker to visit their mothers in prison.

The measure was approved Thursday on a vote of 126-23 and now moves to the Senate.

Lawmakers want a particular focus on children who live at least 50 miles from the prison where their mothers are incarcerated.  The measure is sponsored by House Democrat Penny Hubbard, of St. Louis. Hubbard has said children of incarcerated women already face significant obstacles and that cutting them off from their mothers is punishment for the children.

One year later, some legislators still trying to reinstate death penalty in Illinois

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the law eliminating the death penalty in the state one year ago today. But before he even signed the law, efforts were underway to try to bring it back.  

Representative Dennis Reboletti has filed several bills to reinstate the death penalty. The Republican from Elmhurst is a former prosecutor. He says some crimes are so heinous, they deserve the ultimate punishment.

"We had people on death row that murdered multiple victims. Murdered children," said Reboletti. "Home invaded and then murdered people. Raped them, murdered. And the sentence that's most appropriate -- is death."

Last year Reboletti tried to put the death penalty to a statewide referendum. That and a measure to reinstate it were approved in committee and made it onto the House floor, but they were never called for a vote.

This year he has not had as much success: Reboletti's bill to reinstate the death penalty hasn't even been assigned to a committee.

Mo. judge uphold local control ballot summary

A Missouri judge has upheld a ballot summary for an initiative that would grant St. Louis local control over its police force. The St. Louis police department currently is overseen by a board consisting of the mayor and four appointees of the governor.

Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce ruled Thursday that the summary prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office fairly and impartially describes the measure, which supporters are trying to get on the November ballot.

A lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union had claimed the summary was inadequate because it fails to mention the measure could exempt St. Louis police from certain open-records requirements. But Joyce said the desire to have different information in the summary does not mean the official description is unfair or inadequate.


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