People who have worked for eight years to modernize Missouri’s criminal laws say Governor Nixon’s promise not to veto the criminal code bill marks a change in their work, not an end to it.
The Missouri Bar’s Criminal Justice Committee had started rewriting the criminal code eight years ago. This year the legislature has approved a 607-page bill that embodies much of those efforts. Although Governor Nixon had worried there might be mistakes in such a large bill, he’s been convinced to let it go into effect.
Committee co-chairman Jason Lamb, with the state Office of Prosecution Services, says there’s time to correct any problems because the rewrite does not go into effect until 2017, giving the legislature time to correct any errors.
Co-chairman Gwenda Robinson with the state Public Defender’s office says the Governor’s decision frees the committee to take the next steps. “What are the statutes that we see as being statutes that we might want to revise down the road,” she says. “But we’re just in the beginning stages at this point, just beginning to think of the next project.” .
One of the first issues already being talked about at the Capitol is expungement, the process of sealing prior criminal records, which enables the person to go on with later life as if a crime had not been committed.