Friday, July 24, 2015

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Facts

 Even President Bill Clinton, who began the use of the 85% mandatory minimums law in the early 1990s, now admits that this legislation is too great of a burden.  The financial cost is staggering, and the human toll is immense.  Here are some facts to help acquaint you with the issue Missourians are working to reform.

·          The “Truth in Sentencing Law” was enacted in 1994 after the Clinton Administration offered federal funding incentives to states to adopt the 85% mandatory minimum sentences for Class A felonies that the federal government uses. 

·         Prior to 1994, Class A felonies in Missouri had a 40% mandatory minimum.

·         The federal funding has gone away, and Missouri now pays for all of the additional years that must be served.

·         Prior to 1994, at 40% of a 20 year sentence, an inmate had to serve 8 years.  After 1994, at 85% the amount for the same crime soared to 17 years.

·         It costs approximately $21,000 a year to incarcerate one person.  That means Missouri taxpayers pay an additional $189,000 to incarcerate someone in the example above.

·         For every 1,000 inmates that this bill affects, the taxpayers will save a total of $189,000,000.

·         This bill will not reduce the sentences for those with murder, rape, or child molestation convictions.

·         This bill only applies to first time offenders.  Repeat offenders will not be covered by this reform.

·         First degree robbery ranks first as the most common conviction in the Missouri prison system with approximately 2,572 currently incarcerated.  Hundreds of others are incarcerated for first degree assault. 

·         By shortening time served for first time offenders who demonstrate good behavior while in prison, it will help alleviate the overcrowding in the Department of Corrections.

·         32,000 people are currently incarcerated in Missouri. 

·         11,000 others are convicted and sit in county jails awaiting bed space in prison at a cost of $40 per day that the state pays the counties.

·         Currently county jails are overcrowded due to the state prisoners being housed there, and the probation and parole system has difficulty sending parole violators back to prison due to overcrowding.

·         The average capacity of a maximum security prison in Missouri is 1,500-1,800. 

·         This legislation will alleviate the equivalent of one maximum security prison from our strained system over the course of the next five years.

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