Interim House Committee Looks at Ways to Improve Missouri’s Prison System
The Interim Committee on Criminal Justice has spent the last few weeks reviewing a report issued by a state task force charged with revamping Missouri’s prison system. Committee members have taken a close look at the task force’s findings and are now looking at ways to implement some of the suggestions outlined in the report. The need for change is based on some startling numbers indicating that our prison system isn’t rehabilitating those who enter into it, while the cost for housing prisoners continues to rise. The Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice has said we are failing in our approach as more than half of all prisoners return to prison within a few years of being released. At the same time, the prison population continues to grow and costs continue to increase. In fact, corrections costs have gone up by 39 percent since 2000.
The committee hopes to make recommendations for legislation that would help reverse that trend. One idea presented by the state task force would require offenders who violate the terms of programs such as drug courts to be placed immediately into detention in county jail. Such a change could save the state up to ten dollars a day per inmate. Overall, the recommendations of the state task force could save the state from $7.7 million to $16.6 million over the next five years. We will gain a clearer picture of which policies may become legislation when the 2012 session begins January 4th.
House and Senate Education Leaders File Legislation to Improve System of Higher Education
The chairmen of the House Higher Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee recently announced a joint legislative effort to ensure more Missourians get college degrees. The legislation filed in both chambers is meant to fix some existing issues in Missouri’s system of higher education that will help to keep students in school. One component of the bill [HB1042] would create a statewide course library of at least 25 courses that would be transferable among all public higher education institutions. The bill also would allow a student to transfer credits from a four-year institution to a two-year institution so that an associate’s degree is attainable in situations where the student may be incapable of finishing up a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the bill would require institutions to identify and use the best practices in helping students catch up in core courses like Math and English. The idea is to give students’ a fighting chance to succeed in college and to keep them in college until they receive a degree. It’s an issue I am sure we will discuss in greater detail this legislative session.
Holiday Driving Tips
Below are some driving tips provided by MoDOT. Please drive safe.
- ALWAYS wear your seat belt
- Never drive when you're tired
- Obey speed limits
- Don't run red lights
- Don't overload your car with passengers (everyone must have a seat belt)
- Don't drive distracted (pull over to use your cell phone and NEVER text and drive)
- Don't fiddle with the radio or any other device in your car while driving
- Don't have the radio cranked up; you can't hear sirens or a horn warning you of possible trouble
- Don't drive like you own the road; drive like you own the car
- Don't drink and drive (always have a designated driver if you do drink alcohol).