Criminal Justice is a Policy Sham for Greitens

On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 Governor Greitens presented the State of the State without an accompanying budget. This was the first time in the history of the state. Amongst the general party rhetoric, there were some surprises, such as Greitens focusing on recidivism - or the systems enabling people with convictions to re-enter the criminal justice cycle. It is good policy to aim to reduce recidivism.

A proposed policy highlight from the State of the State: 

I believe—as many of you do—that we must reform our corrections system. I believe our corrections officers do hard work, under difficult circumstances, and I am committed to standing by them and standing up for them.

In order to protect them, and in fact, in order to protect every citizen in Missouri, we need to find ways to reduce recidivism. If somebody gets out of prison, we want them to go to work. We want them to pay their fair share in taxes. We want them to take care of their kids. We want them to set a good example. 

And the last thing we want is somebody coming out of prison and committing another crime which hurts another family and starts that same bad cycle all over again.

This would be a huge win for criminal justice advocates if a week later, reports of organizations leading preventive initiatives weren't having to close due to....the Governor's withholds.  

This would be a huge win for criminal justice advocates if a week later, reports of organizations leading preventive initiatives weren't having to close due to....the Governor's $146 million in budget withholds that he'd announced on January 16, the day before the above speech. 

Among the withholds announced by the governor which would impact these initiatives:

  • 8 million from public school transportation
  • 800,000 from Missouri S&T Engineering Expansion
  • 970,000 from Local Sentencing Initiatives
  • 12 million slashed from Community College core funding
  • 56 million slashed from four year institution core funding
  • 4.5 million cut from Missouri Tech Investment Fund
  • 50,000 cut from autism outreach in Northeast Missouri and 1.5 million from Truman State University's Greenwood Autism Clinic
  • 4 million from Women's Health Services Lapse
  • 3.3 million from UMKC's Free Enterprise Center

From the Columbia Tribune

Gov. Eric Greitens announced earlier this month that $972,000 will be cut from the Missouri Department of Corrections budget for local sentencing initiatives. That included four contracts with in2Action that total about $200,000, though half has been paid out, Dan Hanneken said. The loss of $100,000 will lead to two full-time staffers being laid off and a sharp decrease in the budget for basic needs, such as food, clothing and medication, for the 17 men served by the organization. Hanneken said in2Action will be able to cover its costs and provide housing for its residents but not much else after this week.

An ex-con himself, Hanneken said he is worried the decrease in funding could lead to an increase in recidivism among his clientele. Hanneken said in2Action serves those who are most likely to re-offend, such as the indigent who have no family, and when ex-prisoners do not have the right support, they are more likely to go back to crime.

Missourians are feeling the pinch of Eric Greitens speaking out of both sides of his mouth, from education to health care, and now to his own policy priority of reducing recidivism. It's a little awkward when our governor is flip flopping day to day.

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