Legislation expanding Missouri’s treatment court system to all counties was approved unanimously Thursday by the state Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in Jefferson City.

Missouri House Assistant Majority Floor Leader Kevin Austin briefs the Capitol Press Corps on September 12, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The vote was 7-0.

Judiciary Committee Chairman State Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, tells Missourinet the vote is a “tremendous success” for House sponsor Kevin Austin, R-Springfield, and for the entire Legislature.

“Because treatment courts work, and they have a tremendous record of success. Very pleased, bipartisan support always,” Dixon says.

Stone County Judge Alan Blankenship, Greene County drug court Judge Peggy Davis and Campaign Life Missouri Director Samuel Lee testified for the bill.

Lee tells senators more than 70 percent of women at the LifeHouse crisis maternity home in Springfield have histories of addiction.

Greene County drug court Judge Davis testifies treatment courts reduce recidivism.

Judge Davis tells State Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, that recidivism is defined as receiving a felony conviction.

“And so that’s not necessarily you get law enforcement contact and it wasn’t a felony. That is 49 percent less,” says Davis.

“49 percent less, okay,” Senator Onder responds.

“Yes, so our people with the same population, 49 percent less,” Davis says.

The full Missouri Senate is expected to vote on the measure on Friday.

The House approved it on Wednesday by a bipartisan 141-1 vote.

Representative Austin’s bill allows a circuit court to establish a treatment court division, which could include a DWI court, family treatment court or veterans treatment court.

Governor Mike Parson (R), who called the special session, says expanding treatment courts will allow more people to receive treatment, rather than being incarcerated in what he describes as “our already overcrowded prison system.”

The Missouri Senate will gavel-in Friday morning at 9.


Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Dixon, which was recorded on September 13, 2018 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:

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