Missouri sentencing project gets backing from officials

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 10:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:57 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 24, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Top officials from Missouri's legislative, executive and judicial branches are joining forces in an effort to revamp Missouri's criminal sentencing practices.

Missouri officials are working with the Pew Center on the States to analyze current sentencing laws, prison and probation programs, and recidivism rates. Other states that have done similar studies have enacted laws directing more nonviolent offenders to enhanced probation and drug treatment programs. That generally saves prison beds for the most serious and violent offenses.

Missouri's goal is to consider sentencing legislation during the 2012 session.

The effort drew support at a Wednesday news conference from Gov. Jay Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster, Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr., state Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, House Speaker Steven Tilley and other lawmakers.