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Robbing the Scholastic Peter to Pay for the Incarcerated Paul: The Show-Me State Showing Its Mulishness (4)

By Jon Marc Taylor

Not only does Missouri proportionally lock up more of its residents than Illinois or Kansas, it does so for far longer terms as well than in any of the surrounding states. Missouri judges routinely sentence offenders to prison in excess of the national norms, to the point that Show-He State prisoners serve sentences approaching two-thirds longer than the national average.

Approaching two decades ago, the Missouri Legislature, in a pique of political pandering of “get tough on crime” rhetoric, enacted poorly thought out Truth-In-Sentencing statutes, mandating violent offenders serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentences before becoming parole eligible. Since then myopic legislators have more than doubled the number of offenses receiving mandatory 85 percent terms by extending the sentencing laws to various offenses, and now to some white collar crimes as well.

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