JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri Senate committee heard public comment and answered questions Monday on a bill to make 120-day treatment programs more effective for people who violate their probation.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Bill White, R-Joplin, 120-day programs do not produce long-term positive results for participants, largely because they do not receive the full 120 days of processing.
“I’ve personally dealt with people where you know, they have a 120 day program that they’re doomed to, and they show up there and there’s no space and maybe they get 30 days of the 120-day program,” White told the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence. “I think this bill will help solve that problem.”
White cited the Justice Reinvestment Initiative of the Council of State Governments. According to a 2018 report By the initiative, the majority of people entering Missouri prisons or on probation in 2016 needed drug treatment or other mental health care. Furthermore, more than half of new incarcerations in the same year were the result of people violating parole or probation, and these violations were generally technical in nature.
SB 948 would place people in one of two treatment programs: the cognitive behavioral intervention program to address criminal behavior and the residential treatment program to address substance abuse.
Spokespersons for the Department of Corrections, the Missouri Attorneys Association, and the Missouri Catholic Conference all testified in support of the bill.
Under the bill, in cases where the Department of Corrections determines that participants did not successfully complete the treatment program, the Probation and Parole Division would then advise the court making the determination sentence whether to extend their stay in the program or revoke their probation and send them to prison. .
“We would make a recommendation to the court, and the court would basically tell us what to do next,” said Adam Albach, legislative liaison for the Department of Corrections.
Missouri Supreme Court government relations attorney Patricia Churchill testified on behalf of the Missouri Judicial Conference in opposition to the bill. She said there were a few small tweaks needed in the bill, but ultimately she was optimistic they would be resolved and she would support the final version.
One adjustment she recommended was giving the court and prosecutor more time — 10 days instead of the bill’s current three — to process participants who fail the program and determine what to do next.
The committee has not scheduled a vote.