SPRINGFIELD — House Bill 2 was signed in Springfield Wednesday to focus on getting more people into treatment courts.
Treatment courts are meant for non-violent offenders to help them keep from repeating their behavior.
Now, those in need of treatment for things like drug abuse, domestic violence, or mental health can find it easier.
Governor Parson says these are crucial for getting lives turned around.
“The main goal would be how do you get these people back into the workforce, how do you give them the skills they need and get them cleaned up to where they are productive citizens,” Parson says.
The bill also expands the state commission that oversees those courts, and gives offenders the chance to transfer to places that have these courts, rather than going to jail for repeating offenses.
“Our prison systems are pretty well to the max, and there are no plans to build more prisons. So we’ve got to figure out alternative sentences, which we should,” says Parson.
The one who was key in handling this legislation was Springfield Representative Kevin Austin (R), which is one reason why Parson signed it in Springfield.
Austin says these the numbers are there to back up treatment courts.
He says those who go through these programs are 50% less likely to commit felonies, and over 66% less likely to commit misdemeanors, which he says benefits everyone.
Not just those who are going through these programs.
“Treatment courts are not just for the defendants, it’s making our communities safer. How it benefits Greene County is returning citizens that were drug abusers, drug users, back into productive members of our society. It also helps us in that it’s going to lower jail population. Anytime we lower recidivism, we lower jail population, and we’re saving tax payer dollars,” Austin says.
The first treatment court began in Greene County in 1998, and there are currently about 1,400 participants in various programs due to charges stemming from mental health, and substance use.