My top priority this year was passing comprehensive police reform legislation. Over the past year, I have traveled all over the state to raise awareness of the issue of police brutality and advocate for police reform. That is why I filed Senate Bill 60.
This legislation focused on three commonsense reforms:
Prohibiting law enforcement from using a respiratory chokehold unless deadly force is authorized
Increasing the penalty to a class E felony for officers and correctional staff who engage in sexual conduct with a person in their custody
Preventing officers who have been discharged from one department for wrongdoing from simply moving to another department
Throughout the legislative session, I worked to make sure that this bill took a comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform. The final version of the bill included several important reforms that will make a significant impact in our community.
I have detailed below some of the provisions that will help many people:
Motion to Vacate
The motion to vacate allows a court to grant a motion from the prosecuting or circuit attorney to vacate or set aside a judgment when the court finds clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s innocence, or in situations of constitutional error at the original trial or plea. The prosecuting or circuit attorney may also file and maintain an appeal of the denial or disposal of such a motion. This provision is critically important so that prosecuting attorneys have the opportunity to reexamine an individual’s case and take action if there is evidence they are not guilty. In my opinion, we have so many wrongfully convicted people sitting in prisons across this country, and I want to do my part in this state to help those individuals gain back their freedom.
Another important aspect of this legislation involves the expungement of offenses. Currently, after an individual has served their time in prison and has completed parole or probation, they must wait 7 years to petition to have a felony expunged from their record and 3 years for the expungement of a misdemeanor. This provision lowers that requirement to 3 years for a felony and 1 year for a misdemeanor. Reentering society can be a difficult process, and it can often be hard to find a job or apply to live in an apartment with a felony conviction, and more than that, you lose your right to vote. I believe this legislation will help individuals get back on their feet after reentering society and reduce recidivism.
Failure to Execute a Warrant
This bill also modifies state law regarding the execution of warrants. Currently, if a police officer pulls over an individual with a warrant, they must arrest them immediately, even if the warrant is because the person did not pay a municipal fee or a similarly minor offense. Under this bill, the law enforcement officer shall have the discretion not to arrest this person if they have committed a misdemeanor offense for a traffic violation, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Feminine Hygiene Products
One other provision I want to mention concerns inmate feminine hygiene products. Under this measure, the director of the Department of Corrections and any sheriff or jailer who holds a person in custody must ensure that an appropriate quantity of feminine hygiene products are available at no cost to female offenders confined in any correctional center or jail. I believe having these products available to female inmates is imperative, and even though I am surprised this provision was not already in law, I am happy it was added to SBs 53 and 60.
It is hard to believe I have already completed three legislative sessions. Serving the 14th Senatorial District has been an amazing experience, and I want to thank you for your continued support. Though this year’s session is over, my work does not stop. I look forward to spending time with all of you in the interim and talking about your opinions and concerns regarding our community and the state as a whole.
Thank you for reading my 2021 End-of-Session Report. If you have any questions regarding anything going on in the Missouri Senate, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 573-751-4106.
It is an honor and privilege to represent each of you in the Missouri Senate.