This report provides background information on Missouri’s participation in and outcomes of its participation in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
In 2017, Missouri sought technical assistance under the JRI program to address various challenges in the state’s criminal justice system. At that time, Missouri’s prison incarceration rate was eighth highest in the country, with probation and parole revocation accounting for more than half of all prison admissions. Violent crime had increased 13 percent between 2010 and 2016. Following what had been a downward trend in previous years. The state lacked sufficient capacity to respond to people in the criminal justice system who were assessed as needing treatment for substance-use disorders or mental health conditions, and most quality substance use treatment programming was located inside state prisons instead of in the community. In addition, the Missouri Parole Board was interested in modernizing its parole release and guidelines to incorporate guidelines related to readiness for community reentry based on risk and needs assessment, program completion, and other relevant criteria that research and best practices hold up as effective for parole decisionmaking. The policies adopted by the state were reflected in House Bill (HB) 1355, which was signed into law in June 2018. This legislation authorized broad statutory and administrative changes aimed at reforming Missouri’s criminal justice system. The reforms achieved and their impact are discussed.