Criminal Justice Bills Gathering Steam in Legislature

Two criminal justice bills received attention this week in the House of Representatives. HB 113, sponsored by Rep. Cody Smith (R-Carthage) passed the House and will now be sent over to the Senate. The bill would allow judges to use their discretion to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for offenders who commit certain non-violent crimes. The judges could instead look at the offender's character and chances of rehabilitation when determining what sentence would be best. Offenders who commit violent crimes, sexual crimes or crimes with a gun would still be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The measure could save the state millions of dollars per year. The Dept. of Corrections estimates that out of 1,773 offenders required to serve a minimum prison term, 552 of them could have been released earlier under HB 113.

The House of Representatives also gave first-round approval to a bill that would allow certain older inmates to gain their freedom. HB 352, sponsored by Rep. Tom Hannegan (R-St. Charles), would allow a parole hearing for inmates who have received a life plus 50 years sentence or were 65 years old and had already served a 30-year sentence. Approximately 80-100 inmates could be eligible for parole under the bill. The bill awaits final approval in the House.

February 22, 2019 - 2:09pm
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