Missouri judges get penalty cost before sentencing

Penalty cost

From St. Louis Today

Justice in Missouri now comes with a price tag. It is the first state to provide judges with defendant-specific data on what particular sentences would cost the taxpayers, and on the likelihood that the person in the dock will reoffend.

Not everyone is happy about it.

“I don’t think it has any purpose in a process of balancing justice,” complained Jack Banas, the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney. “Justice doesn’t come down to dollars and cents. You have to look at the system as a whole picture.”

But Kristy Ridings, a defense lawyer practicing in St. Louis, said: “I think it’s fantastic. It gives us more argument to look at alternative sentences. There are resources in the community that are not only more effective, but cheaper.”

Using information provided online, judges across the state can consider the cost of any sentence — from prison time to probation. The information may soon be included in formal presentence reports.

Experts say Missouri is the only state to distribute an invoice on a case-by-case basis.

“We’re seeing a trend where judges are asking for more evidence about best practices,” said Greg Hurley, of the National Center for State Courts. “They are looking at an offender’s track record and other predictive data that may show which treatments or programs may work best to cut down on recidivism.”

But no other state is injecting the cost of a particular sentence into the conversation, Hurley said.

See the full St. Louis Today article at http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_924097a5-9f4… or download the PDF saved for when St. Louis Today removes this story from their data banks.

Coupled with the data gathered from multiple sources at https://www.drugwarfacts.org/ sentencing costs data may be a necessary step and a key tool in criminal justice reform efforts.

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