We had a successful Lobby Day on March 11. House Bill 491, which would reduce the 85% minimum sentence for first-time dangerous offenders, was assigned to a committee, the Civil & Criminal Proceedings Committee, on that very day! It is now scheduled for a hearing on April 1 at 12:00 noon in Hearing Room 1 of the Capitol (lower level). This is great news, and we need to fill up the hearing room to show support. HB 491 is sponsored by Independent State Rep. Keith English, who represents Florissant. Florissant borders Ferguson and the two municipalities share a school district. The bill also has bipartisan support from Democrats Brandon Ellington and Mike Colona and Republicans Don Phillips and Mike Leara.
1. Please spread the word about the hearing. If you can drive or need a ride, call CURE at 877-525-2873. In the Kansas City area, call Al Bey at 816-787-7344.
2. If you cannot attend the hearing, you can send written testimony via email to members of the committee. The following State Representatives are members of the Civil & Criminal Proceedings Committee:
Cornejo, Robert, Chair
White, Bill, Vice Chair
McGaugh, Joe Don
Email addresses for all representatives are in this format:
(That is, first name followed by period, then last name followed by @house.mo.gov)
When you write:
- Identify yourself as a Missouri resident
- Clearly state that you are in favor of HB 491
- Give reasons for supporting the bill
- Urge the lawmaker to support HB 491
Here is a sample letter (but please use your own words):
Dear Representative Cornejo:
As a Missouri resident, I am hereby testifying in support of House Bill 491, which is scheduled to be heard before your committee April 1.
Thousands of Missouri prisoners fall under the law that requires them to serve at least 85% of their sentences before parole consideration. Many of them are first-time offenders who committed a violent act in their youth and have already served decades in prison. They have matured and shown by their behavior that they are rehabilitated and ready to take their places in society. They have taken courses and programs to improve themselves. These men and women deserve a second chance.
This bill is not designed to open the floodgates. The parole board would still make the decision on whether release is appropriate. Besides being fair and just, enacting this bill would save taxpayers millions of dollars annually and ease the overcrowding in Missouri prisons.
Please vote to send this bill to the full House for consideration.
City State Zip