By Jesse Bogan
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri was faced with an alarming report in 2017 that said either spend $189 million over the next five years — primarily by improving treatment options for people with behavioral health problems — or risk paying $485 million to build and run two new prisons.
Officials took the Council of State Governments Justice Center report seriously. After all, former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and other leaders had asked for the comprehensive study, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
A task force of lawmakers, judges, police, leaders of state departments of mental health and corrections, and council employees unanimously approved recommendations to address ineffective drug treatment for inmates and other problems that lead people back to prison.
After a tumultuous time in Jefferson City that included the resignation of Greitens, state officials ultimately approved $5 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Treatment Pilot, which will start soon in Buchanan, Butler and Boone counties. The council’s report calls for $133.5 million in so-called “recovery supports” to be spent in the next five years.
“By itself, it’s not enough to fundamentally change the long-term trajectory,” Andy Barbee, director of research at the council, said about the pilot program.