The Missouri Capitol Building is bathed in red,white and blue lights as the inaguration party for new Governor Eric Greitens is about to begin in Jefferson City, Missouri on January 9, 2017.

(Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

Missouri's minimum sentencing guidelines for non-violent criminals could disappear

The bill's sponsor says it could save the state millions of dollars.

February 22, 2019 - 9:06 am

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri judges could ignore mandatory minimum sentencing laws for some nonviolent offenders under a bill passed by the state House.

House members on Thursday voted 140-17 to pass the bill . It now heads to the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Caleb Rowden says members understand its significance as part of a broader push to revamp the criminal justice system.

Republican Rep. Cody Smith's bill would give judges the discretion to offer more lenient sentences than what's currently allowed by law. Legislative researchers estimate it could mean about 466 fewer prisoners per year and save the state as much as $3 million.

The bill wouldn't allow for reduced sentences in cases of violent crimes, sexual crimes against minors or crimes involving guns.