Auditor Galloway Pursues Answers for Missourians about Offender Giveaways

Taxpayers and law enforcement deserve information on funding of Department of Corrections’ rewards program for offenders

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today said her office is demanding answers from the Missouri Department of Corrections on concerns related to the Missouri Offender Management Matrix. The program provides incentives to offenders who are on probation and parole.

Local law enforcement and taxpayers have expressed repeated concerns related to this program and how incentives such as gift cards, vouchers and passes to local attractions are being funded. Multiple media outlets have reported on the issue and the Department has failed to adequately answer these inquiries and explain details of this program.      

“As the state’s independent watchdog, I want answers to basic questions about this program’s funding sources and operations,” Auditor Galloway said. “Taxpayers and local law enforcement deserve to know about the cost of handing out these incentives to offenders. To date, the Department of Corrections has been unable or unwilling to be fully transparent with Missourians.”

The State Auditor’s Office is requesting information on the funding source of the program, the total numbers of incentives disbursed to date, the system for monitoring and tracking incentives, and the amount of taxpayer-funded staff time required for administering the program.  

Read the complete letter here.

Meth Labs Down in Missouri, Meth Smuggling is Up

A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement. (File)



A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement.

Sheriff Chris Heitman with the Maries County Sheriff’s Office said his office personally has seen the decrease in mid-Missouri m​​eth labs but an increase in drug trafficking.

“Thank God meth labs have went down because when I first started in Maries county, we had 19 meth labs and for a small rural county that s a lot of meth labs when we first took over and that was back in 2009,” Heitman said. “We didn’t have any meth labs last year. We need more officers on the street to help intercept a lot of that drug trafficking that’s going on now.”

As sheriff of a rural county, Heitman said there are challenges that come with needing more manpower to tackle new issues.

“Rural counties you know, we don’t have the funding that these larger counties have,” Heitman said. “Every time we have another task to take on, that’s less time we get to focus on our victim crimes, which is our top priority.”

Heitman attributes The decrease in meth labs to productive changed made by law enforcement and elected officials.

“I contribute that a lot to lawmakers changing the Sudafed law and things of that nature that made it hard for cooks to get the products they need to manufacture,” Heitman said.

Though the decrease in locally produced meth is making it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on the deadly drug, the trafficking from South America, and mainly Mexico, has federal and local law enforcement working overtime.

“It is a lot harder for them now,” Heitman said. “There’s no question law enforcement is taking a great stance in reducing the amount of drug trafficking going on.”

According to the Associated Press, Thursday the DEA announced a methamphetamine crackdown called Operation Crystal Shield, which will focus on eight “transportation hubs” where high levels of Mexican meth are being seized. The St. Louis Division, which covers all of Missouri and Kansas as well as southern Illinois, is the northernmost of the eight targeted areas.
 
​By Gladys Bautista​ | KRCG​

Missouri Racks up $32 Million in County Jail Bills

The state owes Missouri counties more than $32 million for housing and transporting inmates who end up going to state prison. Missouri’s tab has been a problem for years, but the amount has grown in recent years by a significant amount. In October 2017, Missourinet reported the state was about six months behind in paying its county jail bills with an overall $19 million dollar deficit.

The shortfall stems from Missouri being the only state in the country that repays counties for part of the daily local jail cost – about $22 – to house prisoners who eventually head to state prison. The average daily local jail cost in Missouri is around $50.

The state House Subcommittee on County Prison Per Diem Reimbursement is trying to find ways to shrink the overall cost the state is piling on. The solutions vary among state elected officials as to how to reduce the financial gap.

During a hearing today, Representative Don Mayhew, R-Crocker, says the state needs to pay its bills.

“I don’t know how we got in this position in the first place, but now we’ve got to get ourselves out of it.”

Several county officials attended to speak about the matter. A couple of them said their counties could not get away with falling behind on their bills and neither should the state.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill says the state owes his county is about $1 million.

“Boone County is dependent upon sales tax for almost 70% of its total revenue,” says Atwill. “For the last five years, that has not increased but our population has increased in that same five-year period by 10,000 residents. We’re in a budgetary squeeze and this is a big part of it. So, we need your help.”

Atwill says Boone County relies on the state tremendously to fill this void.

“The buck doesn’t stop here in Boone County,” says Atwill. “We’re at ground level. We’re the earthworms of government and a lot of things roll downhill to us that we just have to deal with and this is one of them. It wouldn’t be so bad if this were the only thing that we were dealing with.”

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker says the state owes his county about $400,000.

“We are just underway completing a $35 million jail expansion in Franklin,” he says. “We have a jail with capacity right now – a maximum of 130 that we’ve stuffed 217 in it in a given day.”

Calloway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungerman says the state owes his county about $328,000 from at least the past year.

“Right now, the fear is we’re going to lose it all. We can’t lose it all,” he says. “We’re willing to sit down and talk about the situation and try to figure some things out, but to say that it’s gone is not the correct answer because it’s going to cause many jails to shut down probably.”

Jungerman says the daily cost increases if his jail is short staffed and overtime is needed. Rising utility, meals and healthcare costs also jack up the price. Jungerman says the rising costs are felt by other Missouri jails, not just his.

“We’re booking about 2,800 people a year through our lovely hotel,” he says. “There are many counties across the state in the last few years that have run bond issues because of jail issues. I can’t speak for all those counties, but they passed. But I’ll speak for Callaway County. The general public, the voters of our counties, still believe that criminals need to be in a jail.”

The Department of Corrections gets a set amount of money each quarter to dole out to counties. When the money is out, counties must wait until the next quarter for the chance at getting what they are owed.

Alisa Nelson | Missourinet  

Bond Rules Get Testy Hearing in Missouri House

Even lawmakers who support the Missouri Supreme Court’s recent overhaul of its pretrial release rules appeared disturbed by how those rules have been implemented.

The House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 18 took testimony on a bill that would rescind the rule changes the court put in place on July 1. A parade of law enforcement officials in support of the bill told the committee the new rules have caused failure-to-appear warrants to soar and allowed defendants accused of serious but non-violent crimes to be released almost immediately without having to post bond.

Clark County Sheriff Shawn Webster, one of five county sheriffs who spoke, said a man arrested at a house a block from a middle school was “home 25 minutes later” despite having a felony record, several weapons and a bag of crystal meth.

“He didn’t have to bond out,” Webster said. “That’s nuts.”

Both Republican and Democratic members of the committee seemed aghast at the testimony. But while some members favored throwing out the rules, others said local judges appear to be misreading them.

“I agree with you, as I think that everyone on this panel does — that is nuts,” said Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis and an attorney, in response to the Clark County sheriff. But, she added: “This is an issue about educating judges.”

The new rules require judges to impose the “least restrictive condition or combination of conditions” needed to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court and protect public safety. In his state of the judiciary speech in 2019, then-Chief Justice Zel M. Fischer said the rule changes would “ensure those accused of crime are fairly treated according to the law, and not their pocket books.”

But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis and a former O’Fallon police officer, took issue both with the substance of the court’s rules and the way they were put in place.

“We did not get an opportunity to have this discussion because it was effectively legislated by the Supreme Court through their rulemaking process,” he said at the hearing.

Hill had vowed to file the bill last year in the wake of a shooting at a Kansas City, Kansas, bar that killed four people and injured five others. One of the suspects had several pending felony charges in Missouri, but a Jackson County circuit judge had allowed him to remain free prior to trial without having to post bond.

“I’m for criminal reform. However, we’ve gone too far — or the court has gone too far,” Hill said. Earlier this session, Hill sent a letter signed by 80 legislators urging the Supreme Court to undo the rule changes.

Jeff Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, said decisions on bond should be left with local judges.

“We advocate for leaving bail and conditions of release a level playing field, with no presumptions for or against,” he said.

Several of the sheriffs said that if defendants are released after they are arrested without having to post a cash bond, there are no bond agents to ensure the defendants’ appearance in court when their cases are tried. Scott Lewis, sheriff of St. Charles County, said he’s seen a 30 percent increase in failure-to-appear warrants since July.

“There’s no incentive to show up to court,” he said. “We’re spending our manpower and our transportation costs driving around the state and driving around the United States bringing these people back to St. Charles County.”

Wayne Winn, the sheriff in Scotland County, said that, under the court’s current rules, even a man who set fire to a house and then trashed the jail during booking was released on a signature bond.

“Everything he could get ahold of he destroyed. He was out the next day because it did not meet [the definition of] a violent crime,” Winn said.

Mitten, however, pointed to language in the rule that allows judges to consider the defendant’s “character and mental condition,” which she argued should have given the judge plenty of latitude to keep such a defendant in jail.

No judges testified. But Patricia Churchill, a registered lobbyist for the Supreme Court, said judges still are able to set a cash bond if they find the situation warrants it.

“This is not meant to limit in any way the discretion of the judges,” she said, citing a letter from the task force that crafted the rules. Churchill didn’t take a position on the bill itself.

Several groups spoke in favor of keeping the new rules in place. In written testimony, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said the court’s rules “are by no means perfect.”

“However, it seems imprudent to haphazardly line through them rather than engage in a constructive process to address specific concerns and adjust the rules to more adequately meet Missouri’s needs,” the organization said. MACDL’s statement notes that bill would undo not only “the heart of the rules changes” concerning the financial status of the defendant but also seemingly useful and noncontroversial items, such as a provision that allows hearings to be conducted by teleconference.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri urged lawmakers to retain the requirement that a defendant’s initial court appearance occur within 48 hours of arrest, excluding weekends and holidays. Reverting to the old rule’s standard of “as soon as practicable” could leave defendants in jailed for “weeks,” said Monica Del Villar, a lobbyist for the ACLU.

But Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, an attorney who otherwise defended the new rules, pressed D​​el Villar for evidence of such a scenario, which he said was “not realistic.”

“Missouri judges aren’t holding people for several weeks without a bond hearing,” he said.

The bill is HB 1937.

By: Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Media​  https://molawyersmedia.com/  

Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Canceling Bail Rules

Missouri lawmakers are maneuvering to potentially cancel bail rules that have been in place for less than a year.

The rules were established by the Missouri Supreme Court, but not endorsed by the legislative or executive branch.

“One of the ranking Democrats was trying to take the position that the rules were fine and the judges could do, you know, everything else they thought they could do before,” Jeff Clayton, the director of the American Bail Coalition, said. “And there were six uniformed elected sheriffs that came and said, ‘No, that just isn’t the case.’”

Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, filed legislation to end bail rules put into place less than a year ago.

The Missouri House Judiciary Committee hosted a hearing on Tuesday in which proponents and opponents of canceling the rules testified.

Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett was not one of the sheriffs who testified, but he told News-Press NOW that he’s noticed a change since the rules were put in place last July.

“A lot of offenders we’ve seen don’t show up to court on the court date,” Puett said. “So we’ve seen a huge increase in failure to appears, so they are not showing up for court.”

The rules require local judges to consider non-monetary release conditions for defendants before considering financial ones.

Clayton has advocated for lawmakers to amend the law so that low dollar “nuisance” bonds are removed. He argues bonds set by judges should either be substantial enough to guarantee defendants’ appearances in court or defendants should be released on their own recognizance.

According to Clayton, a vote on the bill to cancel the rules is expected within a few weeks.

The measure does not require the governor’s signature. The Missouri Constitution allows the legislature to cancel Supreme Court rules with a majority vote in both houses.

By Matt Hoffmann | News Press Now newspressnow.com

Missouri Sheriffs Frustrated with ‘Catch and Release’ Policy

Sheriffs in Northeast Missouri are speaking out about an issue they’re calling a major issue for law abiding citizens in the state.

They said probation and parole is getting out of control, allowing criminals to keep offending.

“He was given a suspended execution of sentence and was put on probation,” said Ralls County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ronald Haught.

Deputy Haught said Jeramie Charlton could’ve spent 10 years behind bars for burglary and tampering with a vehicle.

Instead, he got 5 years probation.

Deputy Haught said that probation allowed Charlton to offend again.

On Tuesday, he was involved in a car chase that started in a New London, Missouri Casey’s parking lot.

Haught said the chase damaged multiple police cruisers and a citizen’s vehicle, putting at least 8 lives at stake.

He said it’s a recurring problem.

“We will arrest somebody, in cases of the past where they would have a fairly significant bond or we would be able to put them in jail and hold them for the public safety aspect of it, now we bring them in, we fingerprint them, and we release them,” said Deputy Haught.

The Missouri Sheriff’s Association President, Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, said this isn’t just an issue in Northeast Missouri, but state-wide.

“What we’re seeing is what we believe is a real risk to public safety, there are horror story after horror story throughout the state of these offenders who are released,” said Sheriff Parrish.

He said because of things like the Justice Reinvestment Act, criminals can often spend only a few months for years of sentences.

Sheriff Parrish said just this week, he met with lawmakers in Jefferson City to ask for changes.

“We would like to see the local judges, local prosecutors, have more say in the amount of time that these folks are serving,” said Sheriff Parrish.

WGEM News has reached out to state and local probation and parole offices multiple times this week, they did not respond at news time.

By Frank Healy | WGEM News

Missouri House Passes Drug Monitoring Legislation; Bill Will Move to Senate

Photo by Michael Longmire.​

 

Legislation that would establish a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) was approved Monday by the Missouri House of Representatives.

Missouri is the only state in the country without a statewide PDMP, an electronic database tracking prescriptions for controlled substances.

House Bill 1693, or the Narcotics Control Act, was passed on a 98-56 vote and would establish a statewide PDMP through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to monitor the prescription and dispensing of all Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances.

Sen. Tony Luektemeyer is carrying the Senate companion bill to the Narcotics Control Act, Senate Bill 677, which is nearly identical to the House bill, Rep. Holly Rehder of Sikeston said by phone Tuesday. One of the main differences between the bills is SB 677 provides for the purging of data after a three-year period.

Opposition to the bill may be due to privacy concerns, Rehder told the Southeast Missourian in late January. The ability to delete patients’ data, therefore, may be a useful tool in negotiations, she said.

“I believe a purge is good, certainly … and I was hoping it would be something that maybe would be helpful for negotiating with some of those who are against it,” Rehder said, noting past PDMP legislation she has carried included language allowing for a purge.

This is the eighth year Rehder has proposed such legislation, but she’s hopeful this will be the year it is finally approved by the Senate, the chamber in which it has historically failed.

In the 2016, 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, Sen. Dave Schatz, now Senate Pro-Tem, sponsored companion legislation that would have established the Narcotics Control Act.

Schatz, along with majority floor leader Sen. Caleb Rowden, are “incredibly passionate” about this legislation, Rehder said, noting she is hopeful their support will be enough to sway the Senate in favor of the policy this year.

“They both want it to get passed,” Rehder said of the Republican senators. “Last year, both of them worked really hard to negotiate with the conservative caucus and to try to get it across the line, as did Sen. Luetkemeyer.”

Because Luektemeyer’s bill originates in the Senate, Rehder has two chances to see the Narcotics Control Act passed. Should HB 1693 fail on the Senate floor, SB 677 still has a chance to get through. If the Senate bill is approved, it would need to be heard in House committees and on the House floor before it could be enacted into law.

“You want both of your bills to be working through the process at the same time because anything can happen and get hung up,” Rehder said. “ … You never know whose bill ends up making it across the finish line, but you work together so you have one policy.”

​​In recent years, Gov. Mike Parson has stated his desire to sign into law legislation that would establish a statewide PDMP.

HB 1693 and SB 677 are being scheduled for hearings in Senate committees and on the floor, respectively.

 
By Rachael Long | Southeast Missourian

State Could Require Missouri School Districts to Have Armed Resource Officers

State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on May 17, 2019 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)​.​


Missouri public school districts could be required to have at least one armed officer in every building during normal school hours. The House Elementary and Secondary Education committee is considering the bill sponsored by State Representative Nick Schroer, R​​-O’Fallon. It would also have retired police officers, educators, military members or veterans, or volunteers serve in the paid or unpaid roles. Under the proposed mandate, the individuals would have to complete training prior to starting.

“I don’t think every Tom, Dick and Harry should be tasked with looking out for the kids, making sure certain situations don’t arise, looking out for the safety of the entire staff. I think that you need somebody who’s armed and trained in these situations,” says Schroer.

During a public hearing, Representative Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, says he backs the measure.

“I think we should try and do everything we can to make sure our children are as safe as possible,” says Basye.

Representative Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola, a lifelong educator, says she wants the bill to go a step further.

“Some of the most heated times that we’ve had, where I was truly concerned about behavior or somebody being violent was at ball games, when you have those extracurricular kinds of times,” she says.

The legislation would put an administrator’s or employee’s job in jeopardy if they fail to ensure that an armed officer is on duty.

“I don’t see why any school district, even though we have 60% of them so far that have RSOs, why would they go the extra mile to ensure the safety of their children if they’re not required to and there were penalties if they didn’t do so,” says Schroer.

Otto Fagin, speaking on behalf of the Missouri National Education Association, says local school boards should decide about armed resource officers – not the state.

“We have concerns that when you create this mandate, but there’s no funding attached with it, which may be an Article 10 violation, that creates a pressure for the school districts,” says Fagin. “Do we cut staff in other areas so that we can have school resource officers? The governor’s safety task force – they talk about the best solutions designed through local governance and that one size doesn’t fit all and we agree with that very strongly. That’s why we have concerns about a bill that mandates this. We would probably have no objection whatsoever if the state were wanting to invest in supporting school districts having more access to resource officers in every school.”

Moms Demand Action member Cathy Gilbert of St. Louis County raised other concerns.

“Most school violence is not the mass shootings that we see at Parkland or Sandy Hook. Most of those incidents – 78% – are guns brought to school by students from home,” says Gilbert. So, we need to ensure that parents are aware that safe storage is a critical factor in keeping their children safe.”

The state has 518 public school districts and about 2,400 school buildings.

The committee has not yet voted on House Bill 1961.

 
​By Alisa Nelson | Missourinet.com​

Sheriffs Visit Jefferson City to Get Answers

On February 5th of this year, Sheriffs Wayne Winn (Scotland County), Shawn Webster (Clark County) and Scott Munsterman (Johnson County) represented the region for the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association in Jefferson City. Winn and Webster serve as the leader and assistant leader respectively, for the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Zone 4, which includes Clark, Knox, Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls, Scotland and Shelby coun​​ties. During their visit, the respective sheriffs and MSA Director Kevin Merritt were able to meet with legislators when they visited the state capital to listen to bills being passed around and discussed, during which they had the chance to meet with several senators and representatives in Jefferson City.

Winn was able to sit in and listen to some of the bills being discussed in committee, for which those present gave their support or opposition. Winn mentioned there were a couple of bills they were in support of and a few they did not support.

According to Winn, those who are attending with the Sheriff’s association are from different zones and participation is rotated among those in specific zones. Those who are part of Zone 4 had their turn last week, which would give the senators and representatives a face on who the sheriffs are. The Sheriff’s Association has its own lobbyist too. It should be noted that more direct interaction helps to strengthen relations between the Sheriff’s Association and lawmakers.

When asked if he testified while sitting in on the presentation of the bills, Winn responded. “Kevin Merritt, the director of our association testified on one.”

“We went down to talk to senators about probation and parole, how we’re not getting paid back by the state for per diem, and why probation and parole, releasing prisoners off of probation and releasing them without sentencing them to jail. Early releases, stuff like and plus people that abscond from getting picked up and only being sent to jail and then getting released again after they’ve had to pursue and chase them. One of the things we’re fighting with them right now is the per diem and the money they owe us for prisoners being held and they’re not paying.”

When asked how far behind the state was with reimbursing the county, Winn walked to his office to find the reference sheets, which shows that the state owes Scotland County $23,647.00.

“We’re fighting DOC for this funding,” Winn stated. “The director of DOC said, ‘this is not how other states do it.’ It’s a state law. We’re just asking you to follow state law and reimburse us.” Regarding last year’s reimbursement, Winn commented they were still behind.

Some legislators have offered to help including Representative David Evans, of the 154th District, who is the sponsor of the following house bills:

1519 which deals with bail bonds with modified provisions

1520 which deals with parole conditions

1735 which focuses on per diem costs that jails would get compensated from the state jail reimbursement

Winn said they were fighting an issue with the Supreme Court as the Supreme Court has issued a ruling regarding bail bonds and why Winn said they were not holding prisoners anymore. Because they cannot prove they are a danger to society or a flight risk, they cannot hold them; they can issue a citation, which Winn disagrees with.

“I think some of these crimes are dangerous to society but unless you really get proof of them being a flight risk or being a danger to society” referring to an incident earlier this year in which the jail the court house was destroyed when someone ripped the all plumbing out, leading to a lack of being able to hold anyone in jail until the jail is repaired. He mentioned the property destroyer had set fire to a person’s house before and is currently not in jail. It’s like anything else, if you don’t put a face to what you’re doing, you kind of get ignored. So, we decided we’re going to take a stand and go down and talk to the senators and representatives and just tell them what’s happened and what we’re dealing with. We also went down to tell them the history of jail costs.

“We’re required to accept prisoners, it’s federal law and the liable cost for incarceration and the boarding of prisoners, it’s for the state to reimburse how much they’re supposed to pay us. In 1996 the per diem was raised from $17 to $20. Twenty-six million was authorized in 1997 for county per diem. In 1997 County per diem was twenty-six million; DOC budget was over three hundred million; Missouri State Highway Patrol budget was approximately One hundred and twenty million. In 2019, our county budget per diem was thirty-four to forty million, that’s what the state allowed to be paid back to the counties. The DOC budget was nearly eight-hundred million; Missouri State Highway Patrol budget was approximately three hundred and fifty million; The DPS budget, including the highway patrol was seven hundred and fifty million, so DOC and DPS is 1.5 billion and they’re having trouble paying us back what they owe us.”

The per diem rates highlight the fluctuation of costs over the past twenty-two years.

1998-2002: $22.50

2002-2007: $20

2007-2008: $21.25

2008-2010: $22

2010-2014: $19.58

2014-2015: $21.58

2015-2016: $20.58

2016-2017: $21.08

2017-2019: $22.58

The per diem reimbursement is just for inmates who have gone onto the DOC, and does not include the inmates who have not gone to the DOC.

“This is what we bill for, for the days they (inmates) sit in our jail. If they sit there for six months, we turn it in. Of course, the prisoners get jail credit for those days but that’s what they (the state) pays us back per day for that, even though we charge $35 a day for my jail rate.”

The actual cost of keeping someone in jail includes but is not limited to clothing, meals, accommodations, water rate, not to mention the staff, surveillance, equipment, and insurance. The current state meal reimbursement rate including breakfast, lunch and dinner is $34 a day, which means the jail is being underfunded. When asked where the food came from, Winn said they ordered things from Kohl Wholesale in Quincy, IL including lunch meat and pop-tarts. They also go to J’s to get hot meals. Supplemental items including bread, milk, fruit drinks and tea also come from J’s.

According to Winn, when he first started as sheriff, the jail was budgeting with a local restaurant which was providing all the meals, charging roughly $2.75 a meal, a relatively reasonable price; the bid was raised to $4.25. After deliberation, Winn realized that the raised bid could hurt the budget. Prisoners get fed a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a lunchmeat sandwich for lunch and a hot meal for supper. When asked what was going to happen with the extra prisoners, Winn responded, “That’s what we’re fighting right now and, here’s something else, DOC admits it pays $60 a day to house inmates, but we only get reimbursed $22.58, but that’s still not paying their bill.”

DOC came back with a published article that said a study was done and that offenders were serving fifty-three percent of their time, with a reporter in the committee asking how that percentage was calculated. The fifty-three percent is counting the time spent in county jail.

Time was calculated by looking at time the offenders were sitting in county jail, which counts as time served, which Winn believes is wrong. “To me, when you get sentenced to four years in the department of corrections, you should be going there, serving four years at the Department of Corrections. They give them time for good behavior, they give them credit for time served, which is more than a day, I think it is a day and a half for each day they served in a county jail. So, these people, we take them down to prison and I’ve heard them sitting in the backseat, going ‘I’m only going to be down here for six months’, and I’m sitting there thinking ‘How could this happen?’ Now we’ve got the governor closing prisons, state prisons. Cameron just closed and they are closing Tipton.”

Memphis Democrat

Missouri Lawmakers Look to Overturn State Supreme Court’s Bail Rules

 Laclede Couty Sheriff David Millsap’s deputies have been busy serving more than 1,100 warrants in the last eight months.

“690 people have failed to appear on their warrants after they’ve been issued,” Millsap told the Missouri House Judiciary Committee Tuesday night.

That means his deputies are spending more time trying to track people down. It’s something his officers didn’t have to do before.

“I don’t have the operation manpower to go out chasing people down that should have probably stayed in jail,” Millsap added.

He’s not the only sheriff who’s having a hard time keeping people who should be in jail, from easily being back on the streets.

“We’ve arrested one in the morning, and arrested him later on in the afternoon. Same offense,” said Osage County Sheriff Mike Bonham.

Sheriffs say it’s all because judges must now consider bond options that don’t involve money first.

Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled in 2019 many people can’t afford bail for low level offenses, and could lose their jobs waiting for trial.

Bail bondsmen like Janet Garms feel they’re making the situation a little better.

“We help people in that we care,” Garms told the committee.

One of Garms’ clients, Molly Lake, was in and out of jail for relatively minor crimes. She says Garms helped her get her life back on track.

“I’d probably still be in and out of county jail,” Lake told the committee.

More than 80 Missouri lawmakers are pushing to repeal the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Republican Representative Justin Hill of Kirkwood filed the bill.

“I’m for criminal reform,” Hill said. “However, we’ve gone too far, or the court has gone too far. I want to repeal these rules, and have this discussion.”

Others, including St. Louis County Democrat Gina Mitten, don’t want to see the new rules go anywhere. Her county’s courts developed a form that allows a judge to explain​​ their bail decision.

“It doesn’t say you can’t do it. It doesn’t say you can’t do it anywhere,” Mitten said of the ruling. “All it says is if you’re going to do it, you need to let us know why.”

The House Judiciary committee has not voted on the bill, but it is expected to make it to the House floor for debate.

By Andrew Havranek | KY​3​ News