Missouri House Committee Considers Strengthening Charges for Suspects who Fuel High-Speed Chases

State Representative Jeff Shawan, R-Poplar Bluff, is proposing to crank up the charge for individuals who run from law enforcement – triggering a high-speed chase.

Under current law, bolting from officers is a misdemeanor. Shawan wants the suspects to face ​​a class C to E felony, depending on the severity of the crime and number of times the act is committed.

During a public hearing last month, Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber of western Missouri says the current punishment is not enough.

“It’s got to be addressed. It’s got to be addressed now,” he says. “Because we’re only rolling the dice until these people actually hurt or kill someone.”

Van Buren Police Chief Alonzo Bradwell of southeast Missouri agrees with Weber.

“The ones that we do catch always say ‘If we could’ve just got away from you, even if you would’ve found us, it would’ve just been a misdemeanor.’ They’re more emboldened to run from us and our resources in a small community like that are very limited,” he say.

Bob Adams, a former law enforcement officer and Shawan’s cousin, says his daughter was killed in 1998 after a 14-year-old suspect slammed a stolen vehicle into hers. He says the boy was being chased by a rookie officer going 110 miles per hour through the heart of southeast Missouri’s Jackson.

“This was a tragic accident in a number of ways,” he says as his voice cracks. “It affected my family just profoundly. I can’t tell you how deeply it bothered us for a very long time.”

No one spoke in opposition to the proposal. The Missouri House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety is considering House Bill 1620 and has not yet voted on the plan.

By Alisa Nelson | Missourinet

Sheriffs Carry the Concerns of their Citizens to the Capitol

Fifty-some sheriffs visited the state capitol March 12 to remind lawmakers that the challenges facing the sheriffs are real, that something needs to be done and that they need legislators’ help to make the needed changes.

​​Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, the president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, told the group of legislators and media representatives gathered in the House of Representatives Lounge that 2019 may go down in history as one of the worst years for sheriffs who are attempting to enforce the rule of law and protect the local law-abiding tax payers they serve.

“Sheriffs have been concerned many years – 2019 was just the culmination that the justice system has become too offender-centered. Some well-intentioned people have become too focused on those committing the crimes while not necessarily focusing on the neighborhoods they are affecting and the victims the sheriffs are committed to fighting for,” he said.

Sheriff Parrish summarized some of the challenges they’re facing:

▪ In March, 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that board bills should not be considered court costs – even though that had been the practice for 100 years.

▪ The Missouri Bond Reform, which was ordered December 2018 and became effective July 1, 2019, prohibits judges from keeping defendants in jail if they can’t afford bail. Instead, those defendants, many of whom are “career criminals,” are to be released on their own signature with only a ticket, which, according to sheriffs, allows them to continue to victimize their communities.

▪ State statute requires sheriffs to accept prisoners or face a misdemeanor, and the state is to reimburse counties $22.58 per day for holding those prisoners. However, Missouri is falling further and further behind in paying the jail per diems. As of December 2019, the state owed counties – and ultimately county taxpayers – an estimated $33.4 million.

▪ Sheriffs are at odds with the Missouri Department of Corrections because those sheriffs believe once an offender is sentenced to prison, he or she should not on Day 1 be considered for conditional early release. In many cases, inmates are serving one to three months per year sentenced.

Sheriff Parrish said they hear too often “’What is wrong with society?’ and ‘Why doesn’t society do more for the career criminal?’ We say they can’t afford court costs, we say they can’t afford the board bill, we say they can’t be in jail very long instead of just reminding ourselves that there’s a very simple way – a very simple way – to not have to do those things. Don’t violate the law. I know our constituents believe that if someone does violate the law, we should be firm and fair but also hold them accountable.”

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson went into more detail about jail per diems.

“We, as sheriffs, hear from our citizens every day about how we are handling our budgets – their tax dollars,” she said, reminding those present that their citizens, their constituents, their voters were the same citizens, constituents and voters that the legislators represent. “And they want to know how you are handling their tax dollars. When the state does not pay its bills, it affects not only the sheriffs but the citizens in the lost revenues to our communities.”

Sheriff Dickerson explained that although the rate has fluctuated over the years, since 1976, the state, under Missouri Statute 221.105 has paid per diem for all inmates housed in county jails.

“The state acknowledges that their daily cost for handling inmates is $65 a day. The state allows its own employees a per diem for meals of $34 a day. But the per diem of inmates is just $22.58. The state is also using local jails to hold parole offenders. It used to be that if someone violated their parole, they immediately went back to the Department of Corrections. Today those offenders are staying in the county jails waiting on hearings, waiting on the steps the Department of Corrections will take many times to be released back into the community without any further sentencing or time.”

Sheriff Dickerson also said 1996 was the last time the Missouri legislature and the governor’s office officially recognized that public safety is a partnership between the local, county and state government. Since that time, funding has been directed at other programs, causing the arrearage to grow. She produced a study conducted in 2010 by the National Association of Counties refuting DOC statements that Missouri is the only state that charges room and board. Instead, although different formulas are used, every state pays per diem. She also said a 2015 program evaluation of county per diem payments completed by the DOC showed they had studied the issue, although its officials claimed otherwise.

“The state funding must be appropriated to pay the bills owed by the state and the per diem should be the responsibility of the state,” she said.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott spoke next, discussing concerns about the direction taken by the DOC and the Division of Probation and Parole.

“Probation issues are a continued failure from the top of this organization. Our local P&P officers’ hands are being tied by not being able to recommend revocation. I talked to our circuit judge about three hours ago. He told me he sees offenders with 15 to 20 violations with no recommendation for revocation from Probation and Parole. We have proof that offenders are going to the P&P office, taking urine tests, showing positive for methamphetamine, then they simply walk out the door, get into a vehicle and drive off. This is a public safety issue. This puts Missouri’s citizens’ lives in danger every day,” he said, reiterating that those scenarios were not the fault of the P&P officer but rather from leadership in the DOC.

Sheriff Arnott also criticized the practice of rewarding parolees with gift cards for showing up on time at appointments.

“This is ridiculous! Do you know what the reward is? Not being locked up in jail and not going to prison. This philosophy has to change. If we want to hand out gift cards, let’s give them to Missourians who have been victimized – not criminals. We must remember that our entire justice system is based around taking care of victims. We want our message to be clear. Missouri’s sheriffs will continue to be vigilant and tough on crime but legislators, we need your assistance to change the philosophy of this department,” he said.

Johnson County Sheriff Scott Munsterman addressed the group next, talking about bond reform.

“In the reform, they labeled drugs and drug offenders as ‘non-violent crime.’ I disagree. Drug offenders are not only a danger to themselves, they are also a danger to the communities we represent. During investigations of crimes in our communities, we’re dealing with drug offenders every day and see that they’re tied in with burglaries, car larcenies, and simple property crimes. Drug offenders are utilizing citizens’ assets to help supplement their addiction,” he said, adding that although they arrest the offenders, reforms require sheriffs to simply issue a summons to appear in court and then release them back into the community where they continue to reoffend.

And individuals are not following through and showing up in court. Sheriff Munsterman said since the new rules went into effect, the failure to appear rate in Johnson County has increased 28 percent. In neighboring Cass County, that number jumped 48 percent.

He closed by sharing a statement from a friend that “non-violent” does not mean “non-dangerous,” stressing that those who were breaking into cars and homes to steal and supplement their drug addictions were dangerous and needed to be behind bars.

“To sum up, we are here to protect the local law-abiding tax payer,” Sheriff Parrish said, adding that sheriffs recognize and respect those who are assisting offenders in becoming better citizens. “But the pendulum has swung too far. It’s very simple to not have to follow any guidelines. Follow the law.”
 
By Nancy Zoellner

Missouri Sheriffs Rally at the State Capitol in Jefferson City

Some 50 sheriffs stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Missouri’s capitol on Wednesday, saying the new rules from the Missouri Supreme Court must change – and that they needed lawmakers’ help in accomplishing that.

The sheriffs shared how the new rules favor criminals instead of Missouri’s law-abiding citizens and reminded lawmakers that the justice system was based on taking care of victims.

Sheriffs also discussed how the state has fallen behind in payment of jail per diems – to the tune of $33.4 million as of December 2019.

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