New Missouri law could free hundreds from mandatory prison terms over debts

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has signed legislation that could free hundreds of prisoners who are currently serving mandatory sentences.

The bill signed Tuesday exempts some nonviolent offenses from a state law requiring people to serve at least 40%, 50%, or 80% of their prison terms, depending on their number of previous prison convictions. The law could make some prisoners immediately eligible for parole when it takes effect Aug. 28.

The Department of Corrections estimates it could decrease Missouri’s prison population by 192 people this year and by 925 people by the 2023 fiscal year. That could save the state about $1 million this year and nearly $5.9 million by 2023.

The legislation also prohibits people from being put back in jail for not paying previous jail debts.

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