In what might be their only significant accomplishment of the year, Missouri legislators have passed House Bill 1525, sponsored by Rep. Gary Fuhr, R-St. Louis County, and sent it to the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon. The bill would reduce prison populations slightly by streamlining probation and parole operations throughout the state, giving more control to county officials and reducing the number of parole violators sent to prison.
In a Legislature as partisan and broken as Missouri's, it's a testament to the commitment of Judge Price, Mr. Nixon, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, and Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, that the judicial reform bill is poised to become law.
Together, those leaders worked to get the Pew Center on the States to come to Missouri and, as it has in many other states, figure out how to slow down the uncontrolled growth of the corrections budget. That growth sucks money away from education and other needs even as it fails to do an adequate job of actually rehabilitating prisoners or reducing recidivism. Pew has a remarkable record of getting such reforms through state legislatures. In most other states, however, the proposals are much more significant, reducing enough prison population to actually close at least one prison and thus produce meaningful savings.
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