A two-year project to rewrite Missouri’s entire list of criminal laws is on the verge of approval at the capitol.  The 1,000-page bill proposes to realign a criminal code that has become jumbled  during the 35 years since the last rewrite as new crimes have been defined with new punishments and added to the books in a disorganized way.

Kansas City Senator Jolie Justus has been working on the rewrite for more than two years.  “The biggest impact in this bill is the creation of a new felony class,” she says, “What we’re going to see is a shift in what sentencing is available for the different classes of felonies.”  Justus says prosecutors and public defenders alike have asked for the change that gives them more flexibility to process their cases.

The House passed the big bill in about ten minutes last week, a welcome surprise to Justus who had almost resigned herself to waiting until next year.  

The criminal code was last rewritten and reorganized in the late 1970s.  The only other time that’s been done was in the late 1830s.  

AUDIO: Justus interview 4:34