The Governor laid out a number of important priorities in his State of the State address, which my colleague Scott Tanner has already summarized. But I think the focus on criminal justice deserves a little added emphasis. KCUR noted some of the highlights:
In addition to bolstering money for drug courts and prisoner re-entry programs, Parson is planning on closing Crossroads Correctional Center near Cameron and moving inmates and staff to other prisons across the state….
“This decision is largely driven by our dedication to find efficiencies wherever we can in state government — and this can be done while ensuring safety, improving security and delivering a much needed pay raise. All being done with no layoffs.”
I’ve talked about the Crossroads bit before, but there’s more going on here than just straight taxpayer savings through consolidation.
KTTN radio out of Trenton, Missouri, has an interesting post up with audio from Rep. Louis Riggs, talking about some of the same criminal justice issues. Notably, Rep. Riggs says that along with being “smarter” about our criminal justice strategy, “we don't need to be breaking up families and taking people's licenses away.” It’s refreshing to hear language like that, which not only considers the issues of punishment—but of rehabilitation as well, with an emphasis on avoiding incarceration where possible.
My colleagues Patrick Tuohey and Emily Stahly have been all over issues of criminal justice reform, so I know they’ll be following developments in Jefferson City closely. But it is good to see the state re-examining what Missouri does in terms of criminal justice and how it can improve outcomes—for taxpayers, and for the accused.