Understanding the Effects of Missouri’s Criminal Justice Reform on Sentencing and Parole

The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center has all the information you need about the effects of Missouri’s criminal justice reform on sentencing and parole. Call for inquiries.

Criminal Justice Reform on Sentencing and Parole in Missouri


Recent changes have been made to Missouri’s criminal justice system in order to address important issues such as the high number of people in prison, an increase in violent crimes, and outdated parole rules.

Missouri’s new approach focuses on two main matters: how long people are kept in prison and when they can be released on parole. The state is trying to find a balance between being fair to people who did something wrong and making sure communities are safe.

These changes can affect people who are currently dealing with criminal charges. For those who are already in prison, there’s a chance they could be considered for parole sooner than expected. This shift in the system could mean a lot for the future of how justice is served in Missouri.

Learn more about Missouri’s criminal justice system and how criminal defense lawyers can help you fight a felony in Missouri.

Missouri’s Criminal Justice Reform


Missouri sought technical assistance under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) program in 2017 because it was struggling to provide adequate treatment for those in its criminal justice system, especially those who needed help with substance abuse or mental health issues.

The JRI was founded by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and The Pew Charitable Trusts in an effort to reform the criminal justice system and keep people out of jail. A key objective of the program is to enhance safety by providing proper treatment for mental health issues, substance abuse, and other issues.

In addition, House Bill 1355 was enacted in 2018, introducing new policies with the following aims:

  • Reducing the number of incarcerated individuals

  • Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses

  • Increasing access to probation and parole

  • Helping ex-offenders re-enter society

Overall, the reform includes new rules for how long people stay in prison and when they can be released on parole, along with providing better treatment for issues like substance abuse and mental health. Governor Mike Parson created the Justice Reinvestment Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) to oversee the implementation of the changes.

What Were the Main Objectives of Missouri’s Criminal Justice Reform?

The main objectives of Missouri’s criminal justice reform were to:

  • Reduce recidivism rates

  • Improve public safety

The EOC wanted to achieve that through:

  1. Supporting local law enforcement to deal with violent crimes
  2. Using evidence-based practices and rules that work for women in their custody
  3. Helping parolees stay on track
  4. Making it easier to make decisions about parole
  5. Providing substance abuse treatment for people in the criminal justice system
  6. Removing roadblocks that stop victims of crime from getting help

The state has invested in treatment programs for substance abuse and mental health disorders. Moreover, they expanded alternative sentencing options. They have also provided better job training and educational opportunities for inmates.

How Have Sentencing Guidelines Changed Post-Reform?


Following the JRI program, Missouri Legislature approved HB 192. This is a Missouri state law that reforms “minimum prison terms” for habitual offenders.

Minimum prison terms refer to the number of years an individual must spend in prison for a crime. Those convicted of crimes with minimum sentencing typically have to serve at least a percentage of their mandatory prison term before they can become eligible for parole.

The law specifically lists which offenses trigger minimum prison terms. These are usually types of crimes that aren’t eligible for expungement in Missouri. These crimes include:

  • Drug crimes
  • Murder
  • Crimes against children
  • Terrorism
  • Sex crimes

The law doesn’t change the minimum prison term for people who committed “dangerous felonies.” It also doesn’t release anyone from prison automatically. Instead, it limits which crimes trigger longer minimum prison terms.

Additionally, mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses have been eliminated. Prosecutors are now encouraged to focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. This change was made in order to decrease the number of non-violent offenders in prison and increase the availability of alternative sentencing options.

Furthermore, HB 192 prohibits courts from threatening jail time if a defendant does not pay “board bills,” fees associated with incarceration in county jails.


Changes in Parole Procedures

Under the JRI program, Missouri has made several changes to parole procedures. As a result of HB 192, certain Missouri state prisoners can apply for parole earlier. To be eligible, prisoners have to:

  1. Have served a minimum prison term for a crime that no longer requires it
  2. Currently, be in prison for a crime that is not considered a “dangerous felony”
  3. Have been sentenced before August 28, 2019

Parole eligibility in Missouri has also been expanded for non-violent offenders. Bear in mind that this law is retroactive. The Missouri Parole Board has to evaluate those currently serving mandatory minimums. If they meet the required conditions, they may be able to be released.

How the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center Help You


At the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center, we stand out due to our founder’s faculty position and the extensive training our attorneys have undergone at the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, a premier trial lawyer training program in the USA. This unique experience equips our criminal defense attorneys to provide you with a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific case.

Managing the complexities of Missouri’s criminal justice system, particularly in light of the evolving sentencing and parole policies, can be a challenge. You can rely on our firm for guidance and support throughout your legal journey.

With our deep understanding of the nuances within Missouri’s criminal justice landscape, our experienced attorneys are here to ensure your rights are protected and your interests are safeguarded.

Our goal is to provide you with the strategic advocacy necessary to navigate the state’s criminal justice system effectively, whether you’re facing sentencing issues, seeking alternatives to incarceration, or attempting to secure a favorable outcome during probation or parole proceedings.

If you’re seeking a better understanding of the implications of Missouri’s criminal justice reform, the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center is here to help. Our experienced attorneys can provide you with valuable information during a free consultation, allowing you to make informed decisions about your legal matters.

Frequently Asked Questions


Have the Reforms Led to a Decrease in Crime Rates?

The implementation of the JRI program seemed to decrease Missouri’s prison population. According to The Council of State Governments Justice Center, that decline can be partly attributed to sentencing changes. However, the impact of Missouri’s reform on crime rates is still under study.

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