HB38, which would relax the requirements for prison time served before a person is eligible for parole, is a welcome reform to Missouri’s prison system. I hope it is the beginning of broader criminal justice reforms in Missouri.
Under current law, prison inmates must serve a minimum portion of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. Those percentages range from 40% for those with previous prison commitments to 85% for those with three previous prison commitments. Any inmate convicted of a dangerous felony must serve 85% of their sentence. HB 38 gives sentencing courts discretion over when an inmate is eligible for parole. Courts may still require prisoners to serve up to the current percentages set above—but judges would no longer be required to do so.
The bill also permits all Missouri inmates to be considered for parole if:
- Their crime did not include a particularly heinous motive or involve physical harm or a firearm.
- The inmate has been a model prisoner and demonstrated they are capable of rehabilitation.
HB38 offers the potential not only to reward good behavior and promote rehabilitation, but also to spare taxpayers the unnecessary cost of locking up potentially productive members of society.