Justice Reinvestment in Missouri
Violent crime in Missouri has risen in recent years, while arrests for these crimes have declined. At the same time, Missouri’s prison population continues to swell, driven mostly by admissions for supervision violations, many of which are technical violations, and admissions for prison-based behavioral health treatment, which research shows is less effective than community-based treatment. If the current rate of growth in Missouri’s prison population is not slowed, the state will need to build two new prison facilities by FY2021, which will cost nearly half a billion dollars in combined construction and operating costs.
To address these challenges, Missouri leaders requested and received support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) in May 2017 to utilize a Justice Reinvestment approach to study the state’s criminal justice system, with intensive technical assistance from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. The bipartisan Missouri State Justice Reinvestment Task Force—which included designees from all three branches of government and state and local criminal justice system stakeholders—was formed to support this work.
The task force worked with CSG Justice Center staff to review analyses and develop policy options to reduce violent crime, improve community-based treatment, reduce recidivism, and invest in strategies to increase public safety. Many of these policies are reflected in HB 1355, which was signed into law in June 2018.
This comprehensive Justice Reinvestment legislation aims to provide resources to local law enforcement to help reduce violent crime, increase community-based treatment for people in the criminal justice system who have substance addictions and mental illnesses, and increase support for victims, among other measures.